French President Francois Mitterrand bluntly told Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko today that Moscow must renounce the use of force against civilian airliners so that there are no more disasters like last week's destruction of a Korean Air Lines passenger plane.
During a two-hour meeting, Mitterrand "listened for a long time to the explanations" given by the chief Soviet diplomat and then expressed France's anger over the tragic incident "without beating around the bush," according to the president's spokesman, Michel Vauzelloe.
In another area of conflict between the two nations, Mitterrand insisted that France's independent nuclear arsenal must not be counted in the Geneva arms control talks on medium-range missiles in Europe. The Soviet Union's demand that French and British nuclear deterrent systems be included in the missile count is considered to be the prime obstacle to progress in the Geneva negotiations.
In Madrid today, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said Gromyko told him this week that the French and British nuclear systems possessed "two faces" as strategic as well as medium-range missiles.
Genscher said this comment could mean that the Soviets "will not necessarily insist on their inclusion" in the negotiations on medium-range weapons, and might be willing to discuss them solely within the context of overall strategic nuclear weapons.
French officials tonight would not say whether Gromyko had reiterated this view in his talks today.
After the unexpectedly long session with Mitterrand, Gromyko appeared on the steps of Elysee Palace and told reporters that their discussion was "rich in content" and covered "numerous bilateral and international problems."
He said that on some issues there was "convergence or quasi-convergence" between the two countries, but admitted that on other subjects "their opinions did not converge at all."
Gromyko's trip here, his first in three years, had been postponed for three days by the French to show French outrage over the airliner tragedy. Before his arrival, French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson vowed to "extract the truth" from him regarding Soviet responsibility for "this criminal assassination."
Apart from his discussions with Mitterrand and Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, Gromyko spent most of the day with Cheysson, discussing a lengthy agenda of disputes dominated by the Korean plane crisis.
France has called for new security precautions, such as better radio communications between commercial planes and military air controllers, to protect passenger flights that stray near secret installations.
Gromyko's visit was intended to revive the special relationship between Paris and Moscow that has deteriorated in recent years. The Soviets traditionally have turned to France as their main diplomatic conduit to the West, but this system has faltered since the Afghanistan invasion caused Paris to suspend annual summits with Moscow.
France has also condemned Soviet pressures on Poland, and the two countries have been at odds over the wars in Chad and Lebanon. In April, France expelled 47 Soviet diplomatic officials for alleged espionage.
French Foreign Ministry officials said that Gromyko and Cheysson discussed all these subjects in a wide-ranging tour d'horizon.
Gromyko plans to hold a final meeting with Cheysson Saturday morning before returning to Moscow.