UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (May. 24)
Encouraging reports were received here today indicating that some of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s unfinished business is making progress in connection with his recent “peace mission” to the Middle East. At the same time energetic steps were taken to convene the Security Council on “the Palestine question” next week. Council members were quite certain today that a meeting will be held not later than next Thursday, possibly Tuesday.
One indication of progress toward implementing the Hammarskjold mission was seen in an announcement this morning by the Secretary General that the number of United Nations military observers has been increased by more than one-third. Mr. Hammarskjold declared that Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden have appointed a total of 21 military officers, ranging in rank from captain to colonel, to act as U.N. observers on each side of the Egypt-Israel demarcation line along the Gaza strip.
The 21 newly-appointed military men will become part of a team of 40 others already in the area, under command of Maj. Gen. E.L.M. Burns. The 40 observers now on Gen. Burns’ team have come from Belgium, France, Denmark, Sweden and the United States. Mr. Hammarskjold’s announcement of the addition of the 21 observers came as word was received here that Gen. Burns had received agreement from both Egypt and Israel with regard to the placement of the observers in fixed posts on both sides of the frontier.
With a solid point of agreement on the observers having been obtained, members of the Council felt it was time to convene to vote official thanks to Mr. Hammarskjold for his achievements to date, to request the Secretary General to continue his efforts to reduce tensions, and to ask Israel and the neighboring Arab states to continue to cooperate in the reduction of tension along the armistice lines. These points are expected to be in corporated into a Council resolution which, it is believed now, will have the backing not only of the Western Big Three, but of the Soviet Union as well.