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London Sources Say Talks to Release El Al Plane, Passengers Near Agreement

Diplomatic sources here said over the weekend that Algeria and mediators acting for Israel were near agreement on release of the hijacked El Al airliner and the still detained 12 Israeli passengers and crew members. The sources said that the release of the plane and the Israelis could be expected soon because mediation moves, conducted mainly by Italy, were nearing a successful close.

(Foreign Minister Abba Eban reported to the Cabinet in Jerusalem today on Israel’s continuing efforts to obtain release of the plane and the 12 Israelis, but the Government spokesman declined to give any details. Contacts continued to be mainly through United Nations Secretary-General U Thant. No news has been received on the issue from Algeria and Government sources said all they knew about a French crew having examined the hijacked airliner was from press reports.)

(In Washington, it was reported from Algiers that Air France technicians had been permitted to service the hijacked airliner and that it was now in flying condition.)

(In Los Angeles, Yosef Saphir, Israeli Minister Without Portfolio, told a press conference that the 12 Israeli crew members and passengers of the hijacked airliner would soon be returned to Israel but that the Algerians would probably keep the El Al airliner. Asked about precautions taken by Israel against similar hijacking of airliners in the future, the visiting Liberal party leader said steps were being taken to safeguard Israeli pilots and passengers but declined to give any details.)

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