French President Francois Mitterrand called for an emergency meeting of European leaders to discuss developments in the Soviet Union, which he said "can interrupt but not stop the democratic movement."
After a crisis meeting with his prime minister and foreign minister, Mitterrand told an evening press conference that France should not lose faith in perestroika. He said he had received a letter from Gorbachev just eight days ago, quoting him as saying: "I have not hidden the dangers and the risks existing today regarding the reforms. We knew the transition of a system toward another would not take place without great difficulty, without great crisis. . . . "
The French leader suggested that heads of state in the European Community meet after today's emergency session of EC foreign ministers in The Hague. "It's worth deeper study, joint measures and immediate action to (put pressure on) the Soviet Union," he said, adding, however, that it is too early to speak of possible sanctions against Moscow.
The daily newspaper Le Monde ran a front-page editorial in its afternoon editions strongly urging Western governments to issue "a total condemnation of the coup d'etat ."