Despite praise in the French press of President Carter's stance on human rights, the French government has underlined its intention to continue "pragmetic" policies of not defending political dissidents in other countries.
In contrast to Carter's reported expressed willingness to see Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, President Valery Giscard d'Estaing has turned down a request for a meeting from Soviet historian Andrei Amalrik.
Amalrik, a well-known dissident writer, in turn declined an offered substitue meeting with a Foreign Ministry official charged with following up the Helsinki declaration on human rights. Amalrik said that only a meeting with a high official would convince the Soviet government that France was interested in the caused of human rights in the Soviet Union.
A senior government official said today that Amalrik had been both impolite and unrealistic to insist on a meeting with Giscard on such short notice. "He was looking for publicity," Pierre-Christian Taittinger, the second-ranking official in the Foreign Ministry, told reporters.
"Mr. Carter has started with a spectacular position," Taittinger, a close political associate of President Giscard, continued, "but he may be brought around later to know and judge better the international chessboard."
Amalrik also asked to see the heads of other major political parties here. The first to agree was George Marchais, head of the French Communist Party, which has fastened on repression of Soviet dissidents as the main issue to demonstrate its independence from Moscow.
President Giscard recieved the Soviet ambassador to Paris last week to schedule a long-poned visit here by Soviet party leader Leonid Brezhnev, who is now due before the summer after a lengthy period of cooling relations between Paris and Moscow.
France's sensitivity to the raising of foreign human, rights issues on French soil was also demonstrated by the disclosure that the government controlled television network had cut a six-minute segment of a religious program last Sunday in which the head of Amnesty International's French branch names three countries where torture was said to be used against prisoners.
The countries were Guinea, Morocco nd Benin (formerly Damomey), all former French colonies. The government-owned French press agency, in reporting the incident today, also failed to give the name of the countries.
Carter's concentration on human rights, the opening of the way to improving relations with Cuba and his stress on limiting the nuclear arms race have won him praise from independent and leftist French newspapers that have been almost uniformly critical of U.S. foreign policy since America's deep involvement in Vietnam began under the Johnson administration.
Speaking of Carter's decision to stop cover cash payoffs to foreign leaders by the Central Intelligence Agency, the influential Paris daily LeMonde noted yesterday that "the foreign policy of Mr. Carter is showing itself evey day to be inspired by a moralizing will." An earlier editorial praised "a new spirit" in the White House, which with time may overcome many obstacles."
At the same time, Soviet critism of the French press for reporting on dissident activities has brought sharp rejoinders here. Dean Daniel, editorin-chief of the popular leftist weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, offered Pravda's Paris correspondent space in the magazine to express his views freely if a similiar arrangement was offered to Daniel in the Moscow newspapers.
Pravda recently attacked the French press and Daniel personally over comments on human rights in the Soviet Union.