Germany and France: contrasting public responses to terrorism
France fears renewed terrorism. The fears stem from last week's decision ordering trials for both accused Lebanese terrorist Georges Ibrahim Abdallah and three members of the French terrorist group Direct Action. Strained relations with Iran add to the tension.
Prime Minister Jacques Chirac met with a special security council late last week for the first time since a wave of terror attacks struck Paris last autumn.
French police believe Mr. Abdallah's supporters were responsible for those bloody bombings. Direct Action claimed responsibility for the November assassination of Renault chief Georges Besse.
French antiterror policy centers on intricate - critics say appeasement-minded - Mideast diplomacy. While French officials insist that they do not negotiate with terrorist groups, they do acknowledge attempts to woo Iran and Syria.
To satisfy Tehran, the French expelled activists hostile to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini residing here, and paid back some $300 million of a $1 billion loan taken out from the former Shah of Iran's government. Recent reports in the magazine L'Express say the French government has sold arms to Iran.
To satisfy Damascus, Paris refused to follow the British example and break relations after Syrian complicity in last April's attempted El Al bombing in London was established.
Results are limited. The French credit Syria for helping to obtain the release last year of three French hostages held in Beirut. But relations with Iran remain tense. Tehran insists that Paris stop supporting Iraq. The French refuse. After a visit to Paris in January by a high-ranking Iranian diplomat, Prime Minister Chirac said the outlook for better relations with Iran remained bleak.