Israel Refrains from Commenting on Statement of Ceylon’s Premier

The Foreign Ministry today abstained from commenting on the statement by Ceylon’s new Premier, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike that her Government would re-study the accreditation of Ceylon’s Minister to Israel, in an effort to improve relations with the Arab states.

The Arabs had been pressuring Ceylon for months against improving relations with Israel and used the fact that the Arabs purchase 25 percent of the island’s tea exports–Ceylon’s major export commodity–as a lever against Israel.

Only a few weeks ago, it seemed that the Arabs gave up attempts at blackmailing Ceylon, when they dropped plans to boycott that country’s tea. It is not clear whether this change occurred before or after Ceylon promised to review their relations with Israel.

Observers here pointed out today that, even if Ceylon decided to cancel the accreditation of its Minister to Israel, there would be little practical significance to this move, since Ceylon’s Ambassador to Rome, who is also accredited to Israel, has visited this country only once since accreditation 18 months ago. The Israel legation in Ceylon is headed by a Charge d’Affaires, while this country’s Ambassador to Burma is also non-resident Minister to Ceylon.

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