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Chirac Ends Moscow Visit With Ties Still Chilly

May 17, 1987|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — French Premier Jacques Chirac left for home Saturday with Franco-Soviet relations little, if any, better than they were before he came to Moscow last Wednesday.

The Soviet Foreign Ministry took the unusual step of having its spokesman issue fresh charges of French "anti-Sovietism" within minutes after Chirac concluded his Moscow visit with a news conference.

Both sides agreed that relations were worse than they should be and said, for the record at least, that they should be improved.

But the Kremlin showed its sharp disapproval of French nuclear policy and belittled Chirac's expressed concern for human rights as a ploy for building up anti-Soviet feelings in France.

"This anti-Sovietism is required by those interested in a French military build-up," Soviet spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov said at a last-word briefing after Chirac's departure from the press center. "They need an enemy, and so they make an enemy of the Soviet Union."

Chirac, in his remarks, took a more conciliatory approach, expressing pleasure at the unexpected appearance of Kremlin leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev at a dinner in honor of the French visitor.

Chirac invited his Soviet counterpart, Premier Nikolai I. Ryzhkov, to visit Paris, saying that such exchanges help to establish stability in international relations.

Questioned about the modernization of the French nuclear deterrent, however, Chirac was unbending.

"It's France's affair, and it will allow no interference in this," Chirac declared. "French public opinion . . . is practically unanimous in support of it."

Gerasimov, however, took issue. "We are prepared to leave the nuclear club, provided this club is disbanded," he said. "France doesn't agree, and this is one of the dangers in the French position."

Chirac said he gave Ryzhkov a list of Soviet citizens who have been trying without success to emigrate and asked for reconsideration of the government's refusal to issue exit visas in these cases.

Again, Gerasimov criticized the French guest. "One-third of those on the French list have no intention of leaving the Soviet Union," he said. "I don't think these individual cases are so important. They are brought out to nourish anti-Sovietism."

Franco-Soviet relations have deteriorated over French reluctance to endorse Soviet proposals to eliminate medium-range and shorter-range nuclear missiles from Europe. In addition, French charges of Soviet involvement in spying on France's Ariane rocket program have brought a strong reaction from the Kremlin.

Six diplomats from each nation were expelled from Paris and Moscow, respectively, and the Soviet press has made a martyr of a Soviet woman, Ludmilla Varigina, who was arrested and held in prison for more than two weeks in connection with the spy-ring charges.

Looking on the bright side, Chirac said that he and Gorbachev agreed to develop relations in all fields, including those of economic, scientific and cultural cooperation.

Relations are not what they have been and not what they should be, Chirac and Gerasimov both said, in effect. They recalled the era of detente, launched when Charles de Gaulle was president of France, and said they shared the goal of reviving it.

Less than two years ago, Gorbachev received a cordial reception in France on his first visit to the West as Soviet leader. But this year, with Chirac now visiting here, the atmosphere was far chillier.

The major positive note, Chirac said, was the start of talks that could lead to trade agreements worth about $335 million to French firms.

On this topic, Gerasimov said: "Even though we don't agree on Jacques Chirac's affection for the nuclear bomb, it doesn't mean we couldn't agree on trade issues."

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