JERUSALEM (Feb. 19)
The first complications from the Egyptian-Syrian merger for the mediator role of the United Nations in the Israel-Arab conflict emerged today.
Jordan papers reported that the Syrian Foreign Ministry had informed the UN Truce Supervisory headquarters in Jerusalem that, effective February 22, all UNTSO contacts on Israel-Syrian armistice issues must be made not at Damascus but at the Foreign Ministry of the United Arab Republic in Cairo.
This announcement will put on the spot both the UN and the Israel Foreign Ministry which have sought to postpone any decision on the practical consequences of the Arab merger. The Syrian announcement collides with the fact that while Israel recognizes the Israel-Syrian armistice agreement, Israel on the eve of the Sinai operation proclaimed the Egyptian armistice pact null and void, a position it still maintains.
(At UN headquarters in New York, it was stated that there has been absolutely no official word to the United Nations about Syria’s plans to switch its contact point with the UN Truce Supervision Organization from Damascus to Cairo. Top UN officials expressed certainty that regardless of the “point of contact” between UNTSO and Syria, the Syrian-Israeli armistice agreement concluded in 1949 stands as it is now and will have to be observed by all parties concerned.)
Meanwhile, it was authoritatively learned here today that substantial contingents of the Egyptian army are en route to Syria, the second despatch of such troops to Syria in four months. The first movement of troops was announced on the pretext of aiding Syria in the face of alleged Turkish threats. The present move is being made to help a “sister country preserve internal security.”
The Egyptian troops will land at the port of Latakia but their placement is not yet known. It was reported that the Egyptian soldiers may be replacements for Syrian units rushed north because of Syrian Government fears of an attack from tribes in northern Syria.