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Eban, Occupied by Eshkol Death, Has No Comment on Reply from Thant Letter

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There was no comment here today on the note sent by United Nations Secretary General U Thant yesterday to Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban, in which Mr. Thant assured the Israel Government that he was doing all he could toward “finding means to prevent such acts of violence” as the Arab guerrilla attack on an El Al airliner in Zurich last week. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Mr. Eban had not gotten around to studying Mr. Thant’s letter owing to the sudden death yesterday of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.

Mr. Thant’s letter was in reply to one from Mr. Eban last week in which the Israeli official virtually challenged Mr. Thant to spell out exactly what he planned to do regarding Arab terrorist activities and threats to civilian air travel. Mr. Thant said in his response that even before he had heard from Mr. Eban he had contacted the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized UN agency, as well as the International Air Transport Association, which is a private group with headquarters in Montreal. He used his letter on the protection of civilian air traffic to exert diplomatic pressure on Israel, some observers thought. Mr. Thant advised Israel that “the only sure way” to end terrorist attacks was to make “some substantial movement” toward a Middle East peace.

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