UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Sep. 2)
What action, if any, the United Nations was taking to secure the immediate release of two Israelis held captive by the Syrian authorities since a hijacked Trans-World Airlines was brought down on Damascus Airport last Friday was not disclosed today.
(In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert McCloskey said today that the United States was actively continuing efforts to achieve the release of the two Israelis aboard the hijacked TWA airliner remaining in Syrian custody.)
(In Rome, F.C. Wiser, TWA president, said that moves to secure the release of the two Israeli passengers were “being pursued at the highest diplomatic levels.” Mr. Wiser, who visited Damascus yesterday to inspect the damaged, hijacked plane, said “we are making approaches to all possible sources.” He said the plane’s pilot, Capt. Dean Carter, would remain in Damascus pending further developments.)
ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY REPORTS NO NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN SITUATION
(in Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry said today that there were no new developments in the continued detention of the two Israelis. A Ministry spokesman said Israel was maintaining contact with the situation through the U.S. embassies in Jerusalem and in Rome and with TWA. The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Syria and its affairs in Damascus are handled by the Italian Embassy. The Syrian government still claims that the two Israelis are being held for “investigation”. No other reason for their detention has been received from any other source, the Ministry said.)
A spokesman for Secretary-General U Thant said he had no information as to whether Mr. Thant had been in direct or indirect contact with the Syrian authorities to secure the release of the two men. Mr. Thant himself left for Mexico on Sunday and will not be back at UN headquarters until tonight. He is to leave on Friday for Africa. Up until shortly before Mr. Thant’s departure on Sunday, Ambassador Yosef Tekoah of Israel had been in close touch with him on the situation.
PILOTS’ GROUP WANTS THANT TO RECEIVE DELEGATION TO DISCUSS HIJACKING
The spokesman disclosed receipt of a cable from Olav Forsberg, president of the International Federation of Airlines Pilots Associations, advising the Secretary-General of the position his organization had taken with regard to the hijacking of the TWA plane and the Syrian detention of its Israeli passengers, and asking him to receive an IFALPA delegation. The spokesman said Mr. Thant had not seen the message before his departure and would deal with it on his return.
The UN spokesman drew attention to statements issued for Mr. Thant last Saturday describing the hijacking as “a deplorable and irresponsible act which could serve no useful purpose,” and again, on Monday in which he expressed the hope that the two passengers still held in Syria would be released soon “in the interest of international law and order and security in air travel.”
Meanwhile, Trans-World Airlines issued a new statement today stressing that it had no intention of abandoning its service to Tel Aviv. A statement issued Monday said that TWA had no plans “at this time” to change the Tel Aviv service schedule. The statement today emphasized that “TWA has no plans what soever to change its pattern of scheduled service to Tel Aviv.” The modified statement was issued by John Corris, TWA director of public relations in Washington.