Vice President Mondale today sought to reassure worried European allies that President Carter's campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons and testing "does not reflect a change in the strategy of (nuclear) deterrence" for the defense of Western Europe.
In a press conference concluding a week of talks with Allied leaders. Mondale said Carter's remarks on the strategic weapons issue did not signal the possible removal of the U.S. nuclear shield from Europe.
Referring to the new President's stated desire to end all nuclear tests and eliminate nuclear weapons from the world's arsenal as "long-term goals," Mondale said: "We are quite aware of the sensitivity of these issues to the security of Western Europe and will in all instances consult most closely with our European allies and NATO."
The Vice President said this morning's talks with French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing also included a discussion of U.S. protests of the French release of Palestinian terrorist Abu Daoud, but Mondale gave no indication of what - if anything - had been accomplished.
NOr did he claim progress in his talks on U.S. efforts to block consummation of a French contract to sell sensitive nuclear fuel conversion equipment to Pakistan.
Mondale said Giscard told him the French government "shares our concern" on both terrorism and the spread of nuclear technology, but declined say what if any, pledges the French would make about future handling of such questions.
The Vice President acknowledged that there was a basic difference between the U.S. and French positions on the planned spring confernce of heads of governments, tentatively scheduled for London in May.
He said that Giscard "referred to it as an economic summit," while "I indicated there may be political questions also on the agenda." The French president, who played a prominent role in two earlier economic summits held here in France and in Puerto Rico, is knowns to be anxious to restrict the agenda to economic issues again while President Carter - who will make the summit his first major venture in international diplomacy - is anxious to include political questions, including the issue of nuclear proliferation on which he focused so much attention in his campaign.
Today's morning meeting and lunch with Giscard and French Prime Minister Raymond Barre at the Elysee Palace was described by Mondale as "an excellent and useful" discussion, but there was no public display of the personal cordiality that marked Mondale's talks earlier this week with West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and British Prime Minister James Callaghan. Mondale acknowleged that Giscard had raised in "very strong terms" the French demand that the Anglo-French supersonic transport, the Concorde, be granted landing rights in New York. The Vice President said he replied that "the issue is in the courts."
Mondale said that he brought up the issue of Abu Daoud's release "in a constructive spirit," but added that "I pointed out that one of our ambassadors was killed in an effort by the Black September group to free this individual (Abu Daoud) from jail." He referred to Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, who was killed in 1973 when Abu Daoud was jailed in Amman.
Both President Carter and the Senate have criticized the French for releasing Abu Daoud from custody last month, rather than extraditing him to face trial for his alleged role in the Munich Olympics massacre and other acts of terrorism. Mondale declined to say what Giscard's response had been today.
On the question of the French-Pakistani nuclear deal, Mondale said there would be "further talks," but gave no indication that progress had been made. Mondale did say that Giscard "emphatically agreed" with his own emphasis on the Carter administration's desire to curb both the spread of nuclear technology and the sale of conventional arms.
Using some of the strongest language he has allowed himself on this trip, Mondale said the sale of conventional arms has "reached disgraceful proportions and is robbing nations of resources they need" for their own development, as well as adding to international insecurity.
The United States and France, he noted, are the No. 1 and No. 2 arms salesmen of the Western world, and have a mutual responsibility to curb the spread of weapons.
Aides to Mondale acknowledged that he had received many questions and expressions of concern about Carter's statements during the past week calling for an immediate and complete nuclear test ban and the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons.
After his Paris meeting, Mondale left on a 21-hour, 8,500-mile trans-polar flight to Tokyo, with refueling stops in Iceland, and Alaska.
[The Carter administration turned aside feelers from South Korea for Mondale to visit Seoul during his current tour, the Associated Press reported. The AP quoted U.S. officials as saying the decision was based on the fact that the purpose of Mondale's trip is to discuss economic issues, in which South Korea is not involved, and was not influenced by recent allegations of questionable South Korean lobbying and alleged bribery of congressmen.]