Giscard summit stirs France, and Muskie
The impression is growing here that President Giscard d'Estaing has made a mistake that could prove at least temporarily damaging on the domestic political front in France by undertaking his summit meeting with Soviet President Brezhnev.
The secret way in which the visit to Warasaw was arranged, the subsequent leak about the visit from Polish sources, and the way in which the French declined to confirm that the mission was in the making all tended to build up expectations that could not be fulfilled. For present indications are that the French leader has little to show for his mission to Warsaw, and that the gap between East and West over Afghanistan remains as wide as ever.
Among politicians, only the Moscow-oriented Communists and President Giscard d'Estaing's own party gave unqualified praise for the mission. A number of leading members of the Socialist Party, the largest opposition group, criticized the French leader for tending to give a seal of approval to the Soviets' current diplomatic offensive. The Secretary General of the Gaullist Party, Bernard Pons , declared that the Giscard-Brezhnev summit "opened a new breach in the Western camp."
French press reaction was mixed. Some provincial papers described Mr. Giscard d'Estaing's move as courageous and said he should be credited with seeking a solution to the Afghanistan crisis.
But a number of leading French papers questioned the purpose of the summit meeting. France's most prestigious newspaper, Le Monde, charged that the Franco-Soviet summit would be presented by the Soviet press to the Soviet public and the rest of the world as signaling "the end of the quarantine imposed on the Kremlin leadership for five months following the rape of Afghanistan."
Political analysts think that while the immediate impact of the President's trip to Warsaw may have been more negative than positive in domestic French political terms, this may prove to be only a temporary phenomenon. The French President is still heavily favored to win next year's presidential elections.