[Reagan] did so, according to the French view, with his speech justifying American arms shipments and negotiations with Iran. To many French ears, in fact, the speech Thursday night sounded like an English echo of the many statements made by [Jacques Chirac] and French officials for more than a week justifying their policy toward Syria.
Both French President Francois Mitterrand and Premier Chirac are attending a summit meeting with African leaders in Togo. However, French officials remaining in Paris could not hide their pleasure at the way President Reagan's admissions on Iran took a good deal of pressure off Chirac.
At times, the resemblance between the arguments of Reagan on Thursday night and of French officials for more than a week was almost uncanny. Just the way Chirac and his lieutenants have said that France, despite all the accusations against Syria of encouraging terrorism, must deal with the reality of Syria's power and influence in the Middle East, Reagan said that he had tried to improve relations with Iran because of its "strategic importance and its influence in the Islamic world."