French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing went out of his way today to dissociate himself from U.S. foreign policy positions on a host of major world issues.
Speaking at a special press conference on foreign affairs, the French leader called for a summit conference of West European, African and Arab heads of state, clearly cutting the United States, the Soviet Union and China.
A French radio analyst, whose commentaries appeared to have been carefully primed, said that Giscard was suggesting the creation of a mediumpower triangle to deal with those world problems that are neglected by the great-power triangle of Washington, Moscow and Peking.
Giscard had previously stressed his closeness to the United States, in contrast with the deliberate sense of distance created by President Charles de Gaulle and maintained by his successor and Giscard's predecessor, George Pompidou.
The new approach to the United States suggested by Giscard comes in the wake of the Islamic revolution in Iran and the consequent sharp decline of American prestige in Europe.
The conservative and traditionally pro-American Paris newspaper Le Figaro ran a virulant front-page attack on Carter today by columnist Annie Kriegel, perhaps France's leading anti-communist commentator.
"It is clear," she wrote, "that the Iranian affair has now consecrated President Carter as the worst President of the United States -- which has not lacked for them..."
Asked to talk about U.S. foreign policy, Giscard's only comment was:
"The situation in the world, that is to say both the speed of changes and the very great tensions in various regions, make it necessary to have a clear conception and bold and firm implementation of international policy. That is France's conception and that is how it has acted when its responsibilities were involved. That is how it will continue to act."
Asked about Iran, Giscard also gave a short, prudently worded answer that will be considered in France as a slap at Washington. From the beginning, Giscard said, France considered that the Iranian crisis was something for the Iranians to settle themselves and that no outside pressures should be applied.
To underline the growing belief act where Washington no longer can, act where Washington no longer can, Giscard said that France would "take advantage" of the relations it has maintained in the Arab world to persuade Arab oil exporters to produce more for Western Europe.
Such an attempt by France, would short-circuit the elaborate Americanled system created in the 19-nation International Energy Agency to avoid a mutually damaging scramble for oil by Western countries. France is the only major non-communist industrial nation outside the IEA.
Giscard seemed to be deliberately contrasting the picture he painted of good relations between France and the Soviet Union with what he suggested were American attempts to use China against the Soviets. In response to a question by a man from the Soviet news agency Tass, Giscard said that Paris and Moscow are "equally attached to detente" and that they have "converging views" on it.
"The Soviet leaders are attached to peace," he said. "I know them."
France, he noted, was the first Western nation to recognize China. "We always recognized the Chinese reality," he said, adding that France always stressed that recognition of China should not aggravate international tensions.
Of the U.S. call for renewed Camp David talks, Giscard said that the negotiations between Egypt and Israel had gone on for too long and that continuing to drag them out would have a "prejudicial" effect. The problem, he said, should be returned to a forum where an overall settlement can be discussed -- the U.N. Security Council.
Despite the concentration on foreign affairs today, Giscard acknowledged France's current "preoccupation with economic and social problems." Many of his foreign policy statements seemed designed to head off the Gaullists and Communists at home. Nevertheless, he stressed, "I do not want to provide a French contribution to the decline of the West."