Airline Receives ‘some Encouragement’ in Bid for Release of Hijack Prisoners

Some measure of encouragement on the prospects for release of the two Israeli passengers detained by Syria since the hijacking last August of a U.S. Airliner was reported today by a spokesman here for Trans-World Airlines. The spokesman said that “some encouragement” was felt because of developments in recent days.

State Department officials said that airworthiness tests were being made to ascertain whether the plane was in flying condition. These officials had no comment on the measured optimism voiced by TWA. They said only that the U.S. Government was “continuing efforts” to liberate the passengers.

(The Syrian delegation to the United Nations unexpectedly called a press conference tonight and speculation in UN circles was that the mission, which has been under pressure from UN Secretary-General U Thant for the release the two Israeli prisoners might have an announcement to make on that subject.)

The TWA Spokesman said that two TWA officials had remained in Damascus to press for release of the passengers. The officials are RAW Wilson, International vice-president of TWA, and John L. Gaiser, General manager of Saudi Arabian Airlines, of Jedda Saudi Arabia. TWA has an assistance program with the Arab line.

Repairs are virtually completed on the TWA plane at Damascus and the possibility exists that the plane will leave Damascus by the end of December. No definite plan has yet been made to remove the plane, the TWA spokesman said.

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