Former president Richard Nixon was welcomed to Paris today by Gen. Alexander Haig, his last chief of staff before Watergate forced him to resign the presidency in disgrace four years ago.
Nixon, traveling abroad for the first time since his visit to China in 1976, and Haig, now NATO's supreme commander in Europe, had a two-hour talk at the Ritz Hotel where Nixon is staying.
"We did some reminiscing and exchanged views about the situation in Europe," Gen. Haig said as he left the hotel. "Mr. Nixon seemed to me very fit, very alert and interested in international affairs -- particularly security."
The 65-year-old ex-president, who resigned in August 1974, said after his arrival last night that he intended to speak on international matters. During an impromptu news conference held on the steps of his hotel, Nixon was asked whether he was on the verge of a political comeback.
"I am the only American citizen above the age of 35 who cannot run for the presidency," he said.
Nixon made only a brief appearance today. He was said to be spending the afternoon preparing for his live appearance on French television Tuesday night.
Interviewer Joseph Pasteur, who will run the phone-in program, said the former president told him he wanted questions.
"He said he was not afraid to answer questions on any subject, including Watergate," Pasteur said.
Asked why he thought Nixon returned to Europe for the first time since he left the presidency in 1974, Pasteur said, "He does not want to be forgotten and maybe he wants to promote sales of his book."
Nixon's memoirs, which appeared in French six months ago, have attracted little interest and sold only 4,000 copies here.
Nixon is expected to give a news conference Wednesday before leaving for England, where he will address the Oxford Union, the University's debating club.