FRANCE: From the Royal Box

At 3:45 p.m. the 21 ministers of France's Fifth Republic seated themselves in gilt armchairs in scrupulous order of rank in the half-darkened Salle des Fêtes of Paris' Elysée Palace. As they did so, lights flooded the pink brocade curtains at the entrance to the onetime royal box that overlooks the room. Precisely at the stroke of four, white-gloved hands parted the curtains, and Charles de Gaulle, blinking against the lights, appeared in the box to open his second press conference since he became President of France eleven months ago.

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