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U.N. Secretary General Fears Complications in Middle East in 1964

Secretary General U Thant warned tonight that 1964 will be “a crucial year in the history of the United Nations” and singled out the Middle East as a region where trouble may develop.

“I believe,” he said, “that 1964 is a crucial year in the history of the United Nations.” He pointed to three troublesome issues facing the United Nations. One, he said, was financing, with the UN facing now a deficit of $134,000,000. The second, he said, was the situation in the Middle East, while the third is the issue of decolonization.

He pointed to the fact that the United Nations Emergency Force–on guard on the Gaza Strip and in the Egyptian Sinai overlooking Israel’s waterway in the Gulf of Akaba–is continuing to function “and will continue with a little reduction in expenditure.” He noted that “through the good offices of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, we were recently able to arrange for the exchange of prisoners between Syria and Israel.

“But,” he continued, “the overall outlook in the Middle East today is threatening, and I am very much afraid that there will be more than one occasion in 1964 when Middle Eastern problems will engage the attention of the United Nations.” He did not identify either the problems or the exact parts of the Middle East where he experts trouble this year. He made his prediction in speaking at Columbia University.

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