President Charles de Gaulle hinted that British backing for the U.S. war effort in Vietnam?
President Charles de Gaulle hinted that British backing for the U.S. war effort in Vietnam might keep Britain out of the Common Market. He was speaking at his first press conference of the year before 600 newsmen at the Elysee Palace on May 16.
The 76-year-old French leader declared, however, that France would not "veto" the British attempt to join Europe, but warned that her own "continued insularity" might keep her out.
It was the first press conference due in two year in which the President did not directly attack the United States for its conduct of the Vietnam conflict. But he refused to answer correspondents' questions as to whether he'd be willing to meet America's President Johnson for bilateral talks.
Much of the 75-minutes session was taken up with the President discussing his own domestic problems. He issued a clarion call for French unity and claimed that opposition factions in parliament were continuing with efforts to have him thrown out of office. He also appealed for support for a bill now before parliament which would again give him power to rule by decree - but only for a six-months period.
The President said he was demanding special powers because his government's programme of social and economic advancement was being hampered. He pointed to the economic and industrial progress made by his government during the 9-years of the Fifth Republic, measure ranging form the National Employment Fund to the setting up of 2000 new commercial and industrial enterprises.
However, opposition to the President's bill has run into stiff opposition from the French left wing. A general strike has been scheduled for May 17, while printers have walked off the job already to prevent papers publishing the President's call to the nation. However, President de Gaulle's message was broadcast by television and radio.