Israel’s Ambassador to Nigeria Asked to Clarify Eban’s Remarks on Biafra Aid

Israel’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Issahar Ben Yaacov, was instructed today to present that government with the full text of Foreign Minister Abba Eben’s recent remarks in the Keenest about Israel’s relief to Biafra during its 30 month war of secession. The Foreign Ministry said the instructions were issued to Mr. Ben Yacov after he was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Lagos to “clarify” Mr. Eben’s statement.

The Daily Times of Lagos has demanded sanctions against Israel. France and other countries that admitted aiding Biafra and thereby, allegedly, prolonged the war. Foreign Ministry circles here said the newspaper’s version of Mr. Eben’s remarks had omitted the political side which reasserted Israel’s recognition of Federal Nigeria within its original boundaries.

There was some concern in Government circles that Nigeria might break diplomatic relations with Israel on the issue. They pointed out however that Israel had acted correctly and within the bounds of international custom in rendering humanitarian aid to Biafra. They noted that all Israeli relief shipments were sent through the International Red Cross. Nigeria meanwhile has not yet replied to an Israeli offer to send a relief mission to Biafra. The offer was made after Biafra surrendered to the Federal authorities last week. Some 350 Israelis have volunteered for the mission.

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