TEL AVIV (Aug. 25)
The problem of transferring to Ceylon the two frigates sold to that country by Israel is expected to be solved “within the near future,” it was stated authoritatively here today.
The frigates are in the harbor at Eilat, awaiting Ceylonese crews to man them and sail them down the Gulf of Akaba, through the Straits of Tiran, and into the Red Sea. Ceylon’s 100-man crew for the manning of the first of the two ships has been aboard a Ceylonese minesweeper, the Parakram, at the Protectorate of Aden, for more than two weeks, awaiting word from the United Arab Republic that there would be one trouble if the Ceylonese sailed the ships. The Straits run through shores under the jurisdiction of the UAR and Saudi Arabia, while a United Nations Emergency Force unit guards one point bordering the Straits, at Sharm el-Sheikhi.
It was understood here today that Ceylon is expecting word from Cairo in the next 24 hours about the passage through the waterway which Israel considers an international highway. Meanwhile, however, Israel’s envoy at Colombo, capital of Ceylon, has transmitted to the Ceylonese several suggestions on how to solve the problem without international entanglements. It is believed that one of those suggestions, which have not been spelled out here, will be adopted by Ceylon.
Work on readying the two frigates, the Miznak and Mivtach, is proceeding in the harbor of Eilat, so that the ships might be sailed almost as soon as they are boarded by the expected Ceylonese crews.