French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing said yesterday he will discuss limiting arms sales to the Middle East - a move he sees as essential to guarantee pace there - when he meets with president Carter in Paris later this week.
In a taped television interview from Paris, shown on "Issues and Answers" (ABC, WJLA), Giscard said France could play a more appropriate role in discussing security guarantees in the Middle East than in participating in peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab nations. France has been a major arms supplier to Middle Eastern countries.
"I suppose that for nations like ours which are outside the region," Giscard said, "our role could come when the discussions would center on the guarantees for a lasting peace."
Chief among those guarantees, he said, would be reduction of arms exporters not to sell sophisticated weapons in the Middle East. Only limited guarantees can be established through land settlements, he said, particularly when the participants have access to advance weaponry.
"It is easy to attack or to destroy a country or part of a country from far away by the modern weapons," Giscard said, "and so it is not possible to guarantee the security of any state if there is a risk."
Giscard called Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's sudden decision to visit Israel last month a "brave and dignified move," which he said was important to open discussions. Now, he said, those discussions must focus on the "real issues." He said he believes Sadat is trying to reach a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Arab countries, not just a separate one between Israel and Egypt.
Giscard also said that a lasting peace cannot be established without the participation of the Soviet Union.
"It is necessary at the proper moment that the U.S.S.R. will concur to the implementation of peace in the Middle East for a very practical and simple reason," Giscard said. "It is not possible to have safeguards if one of the major superpowers if out of the agreement, and is free or even decided to give support to one or two of the countries of the region."
On the issue of strategic arms negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union, Giscard said there is a fear among some in Europe that if an arms limitation agreement is reached, America will reduce its military commitments to Europe. Giscard said he does not share that fear, but suggested that President Carter's visit to France "would be the occasion for the United States to restate very clearly their commitment concerning European security."
The French president said he also would discuss nuclear proliferation with Carter, who opposes constructing fast breeder reactors at home and exporting the technology to build them abroad. Giscard said France has no oil and very limited reserves of uranium ore, and thus needs the breeder, which literally "breeds" plutonium, a source of nuclear power.
"The breeder reactor is absolutely vital for us," Giscard said. "Whether the technology is absolutely safe is a major concern, but we must progress in this area." He said the world must develop an "international attitude" on nuclear proliferation.
On his domestic political situation, Giscard said he was encouraged by failure of the French Communist Party to maintain its alliance with the Socialists. He said the French Communists, now estimated at about 20 per cent of the vote, have made no increases in support, and he does not expect they will.
Giscard said he decided to take Carter to the Normandy beaches, where Allied troops in Word War II began the 1944 invasion of Europe, "to show to the people of America the gratefulness of the French people of my generation for the very important" American contribution to "our liberation."