[Francois Mitterrand] rejected [Mikhail S. Gorbachev]'s surprise proposal, which came in a speech to a French parliamentary committee Thursday, that the Soviet Union and France begin negotiations for a limitation of the size of the French nuclear arsenal. The Soviet leader said he was making the same proposal to Britain.
After the rebuff, Mitterrand gave Gorbachev what was probably a far more important dividend. The French president gave significant support to the policies of Gorbachev by agreeing that there can be no settlement for substantial disarmament unless President [Reagan]'s "Star Wars" project is abandoned.
Support from France against Star Wars had obviously been a major aim of the four-day visit by Gorbachev. Mitterrand has never hidden his distaste for the Reagan defense plan-officially called the Strategic Defense Initiative-of arming satellites in space so that they can shoot down nuclear missiles. Despite this, he refused a Soviet suggestion that he sign a joint communique on the issue.