French marines off to Africa

The second contingent of French marines in 24 hours to be flown as reinforcements to the Central African Republic left here for Bangui, local sources said. Their departure was thought to be part of French moves to reassure friendly countries in Africa which feel threatened by the proposed merger between Chad and Libya.

French officials have been at pains to say that the reinforcement operation was at the request of African countries with which Paris has defense and military aid agreements. French political commentators agreed that officials hoped the troop movements would dispel regional fears and avert a clash with Libya. They added that any real showdown would inevitably deal a severe blow to France's policy toward the Arab world, as most Arab states would support Libya out of pan-Arab solidarity even if those ties were under strain.

Meanwhile, President Siaka Stevens of Sierra Leone, chairman of the Organization of African Unity, called for a summit of 14 African leaders in Lome , the Togolese capital, to discuss the proposed merger.

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