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Syria Informs Security Council on Suspension in Talks with Israel

Apparently preparing its excuses for scuttling the extraordinary session of the Israeli-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission–which is now stymied by Syrian refusals to adhere to that session’s one-point agenda –Syria has presented a lengthy letter to the Security Council here, charging that Israel has “strayed away” from the agenda.

The letter, dated February 23 but made public here only today, accused Israel of insisting on “finalizing” her alleged military occupation of the demilitarized zones on the Syrian-Israeli frontiers, building up “military fortifications” in the area, refusing to remove those installations after being requested to do so by United Nations military observers, and expelling “Arab farmers from their villages.”

The ISMAC’s extraordinary session was convened by U.N. Secretary-General U Thant after a proposal by Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. The U.N. feared the possible outbreak of large-scale warfare on the Israeli-Syrian borders as a result of continuing sabotage incursion into Israel, for which Israel blamed the Damascus Government. ISMAC first met on January 25, and the single point on its agenda, agreed to by all sides, concerned cultivation and rights of cultivation in the demilitarized zones.

After three meetings of ISMAC, Gen. Bull adjourned the session just as it was ready to hold a fourth meeting because Syria insisted on broadening the agenda.

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