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Daily Tel
19.11. 69

Pompidou orders cooler relations with Biafra

By John Smalldon in Paris .

The French Gouvernment is divided over its attitude to the Biafra-Nigeria coflict and the line to take on suppressinng unofficial deliveries of arms and supplies to separaist Biafra .

Backed by M. Chaban Delmas , Prime Minister , President Pompidou has ordered a cooling down in French dealing with Biafra .

This , I learn , contributed to the dwindling supplies and the desperate shortage of armes and ammunition reported from Owerri in The Daily Telegraph yesterday . But at the same time M. Debré , Defence Minister , is insisting on maintaining Gen. de Gaulle’s policy of increasing French influence « South of the Sahara . »

And one of the reasons he has demanded that the prestige French H-bomb tests be resurmed in the Pacific early next year is the prestige value it will bring France in developing Africain countries .

Debré needed

M. Pompidou , who is above all preocuupied with the Common Market and social unrest in France , has no desire at this stage to make a break with M. Debré, one of his three Ministters of State, and leader of a sizeable portion of Gaullist opinion .

Apart from ordering restrictions on the of private and unfficial supplies to Biafra , M. Pompidou has asked that the Gouvernement show more descretion in handling pro-Biafran propaganda.

At the Gouvernment’s suggestion the France-Biafra Association and the Comittee Against Genocide in Biafra have merged under the less dramatic litle , of the Comitee for Peace in Nigeria and Biafra .

M. Debré is taking a keener interest in African matters than his predecessor . M. Messmer who was Defence Ministre for more than 10 years. years . M. Debré’s seconde son François , has just given his father a a first-hand accund of conditions Biafra -sponsored visit .

The Defence Minister is also kepling intouch with M. Bourges , Secretery of State for Foreign Afffaires . particularty in Africa and M Foccart , who was de Gaulle’s Africaines adviser and who isSecretary of the Franc-Africain Community .

These men have both kept their pre-Pompidou jobs and are committed to the ideal og further French economic and political influence in former British West Africa .

In French eyes , Nigeria , completely surrounded by ex-French colonies , is the kingpin State for the development of West Africa .


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