Israeli Government Declines to Comment on Thant’s Opposition to Strike by Pilots
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Israeli Government Declines to Comment on Thant’s Opposition to Strike by Pilots

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Israeli Government sources declined to comment today on United Nations Secretary General U Thant’s plea to international airline pilots not to strike in protest against the hijacking of planes and detention of two Israelis by the Syrian Government.

No non-Syrian has been permitted to visit the Israelis despite requests by Trans-World Airline personnel, the International Red Cross and the Italian Ambassador in Damascus, it was learned.

Mr. Thant tried this weekend to dissuade the international airlines pilots organization from calling a 24-hour world wide pilots strike over aerial hijacking. But Ola Forsberg, of Finnair, president of the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations (IFALPA), said that the strike would be cancelled only if Syria released the Israeli nationals who were aboard a TWA airliner hijacked to Damascus by Arab commandos Aug. 29, However, Mr. Forsberg said, his group would seek to have some nation raise the question of how to deal with aerial hijacking before the UN Security Council.

At the request of IFALPA, Mr. Thant met with a four-man delegation of pilots in Geneva. He reportedly suggested that they raise the matter directly with the Security Council or General Assembly or prevail on their governments to take such action. He said the proposed strike “would not produce the desired results” and would “only cause serious inconvenience to airline passengers throughout the world.” Mr. Forsberg said afterwards that the meeting with Mr. Thant had been “very informative” and encouraged the delegation to the extent that it now knew how to proceed to get the hijacking issue raised in the U.N. He said it would be brought before the Security Council rather than the General Assembly because of the Council’s “greater strength.”

IFALPA meanwhile began polling its member associations on the proposed strike. The organization represents about 44,000 pilots employed by the world’s major airlines.

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