President Valery Giscard D'Estang pressed for the inclusion of French forces in the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon over the opposition of a number of top foreign and Defense Ministry officials, reliable sources said yesterday.
They said the president was warned that France had nothing to gain diplomatically, and that the kind of casualties the French force suffered Tuesday were inevitable. He reportedly rejected these arguments both on the grounds that there would be no problem, and because injection of French forces into Lebanon would put France back into the diplomatic picture in the middle East.
France has been excluded from the peace process hostility of Israel, which feels the French are blased toward the Arabs. Giscard is understood to have pointed out to his diplomats that particiating in a U.N. force would give France an opportunity to regain credibility with Israel by demonstrating its impartiality.
The attack on the French troops got large front-page headlines yesterday in the Paris newspapers. But the news caught the French capital in the middle of a holiday work week.
French officials said privately they do not expect any outcry over the deaths, and added that the French public would understood that such incidents are the risk that goes with taking part in peacekeeping operations.
Foreign Ministers Louis De Guiruingaud moreover, stressed the responsibility of the United Nation rather than the French government.