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U.S. Reaction to Syria’s Boycott of Talks

Syria’s refusal to join the peace conference in Geneva was seen here as based on its fear that world attention would be focused on its refusal to abide by the Geneva Convention on POWs. A Syrian government spokesman in Damascus said today that “behind the scenes maneuvering” meant the talks would be diverted into “secondary matters” to serve Israel’s interests. This was interpreted here as meaning it would not permit Israel to demand directly of Syria at the conference that it provide names of Israeli POWs nor allow an International Red Cross representative to visit the POW camp.