French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson has raised questions about U.S. policies in the Middle East, saying the dispatch of AWACS radar planes to Egypt is like sending a useless "elephant" to a friend in need.
Cheysson, in an interview given on the eve of his departure for the festivities in Yorktown and published in today's editions of Le Matin, also said that President Francois Mitterrand has told President Reagan that if U.S. economic policies do not succeed within a year, "we do not see how we can . . . avoid a real quarrel."
On the Middle East, Cheysson said: "What do AWACS have to do with this? I wonder. Show friendship for someone trying to figure out how to reorganize his affairs by sending him an elephant, two elephants . . . . He can put them in the garden, but what can he do with them?"
The same is true for Sudan, he added, noting that Washington's military response will do little to help ward off internal dangers to Sudanese stability, even if provoked in part by Libya.
"In the case of Sudan, which is actually menaced from within by a fundamentalist danger, what is the elephant going to do?" Cheysson asked. "It is not he who will answer the incendiary bombs, the campaigns organized in the shade of mosques as the muezzin chants."
Cheysson suggested that Reagan's decision to send AWACS planes to Egypt was designed in part to convince the U.S. Senate to approve sale of the aircraft to Saudi Arabia to show, "that this elephant is indispensable everywhere."
Cheysson's displeasure with U.S. economic policies is well known, partiularly with respect to high interest rates, but the tone of his remarks reflected a new sense of urgency.
"Here we have a possibility of real conflict . . . ," Cheysson said. "When President Mitterrand saw President Reagan for the first time at Ottawa, he told him: 'Your policies are worrying. They are not ours, but, since they are your policies, succeed fast . . . . If you do not succeed within the coming year, we do not see how we can get by or how to avoid a real quarrel.' "