Israel Stands Pat: No Disengagement Talks with Syria Until Pow Issue is Resolved

The Israeli government is standing firm on its refusal to begin disengagement negotiations with Syria until the Syrians comply fully with Geneva Convention requirements regarding prisoners of war. The government reportedly rejected a proposal said to have been relayed from Damascus by the U.S. that the POW issue be settled in stages while disengagement talks were going on.

The Syrians were reportedly prepared to provide a list of Israeli POWs before negotiations started provided that Israel agreed to delay Red Cross visits to them until after the talks begin. U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Keating reportedly conveyed that suggestion to Premier Golda Meir yesterday whereupon Mrs. Meir immediately polled her Cabinet ministers by phone But the unanimous answer was, no.

It was reported, meanwhile, that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan will visit the United States at the end of this month, presumably to discuss the Syrian disengagement problem with American officials. Officially, Dayan will make the trip on behalf of the Israel Bond Organization. But sources here noted that a similar visit by Dayan last month preceded U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s week of “shuttle diplomacy” in the Middle East that resulted in the Israeli-Egyptian disengagement agreement. Foreign Minister Abba Eban is due to visit the U.S. in March.

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