Israeli-syrian Talks in Limbo

The Israeli-Syrian disengagement talks, planned to be held in Washington in mid-March, are in “a state of limbo,” an authoritative State Department source informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today. The start of the talks, engineered by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger during his latest round of “shuttle diplomacy” in the Middle East, has been delayed apparently because of the uncertain political situation in Israel, according to the source.

State Department spokesman George Vest would not comment on Israel’s political situation during his press briefing today. Asked about Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s visit here next week. Vest said he understood that Eban planned to be in the U.S. “in the not too distant future.” but added, “I don’t know if he will be pursuing the disengagement” process.

(Eban’s visit, in behalf of the Israel Bond Organization, was confirmed today to the JTA by the Bond office in New York. Foreign Ministry sources in Jerusalem said today that Eban may go to the U.S. next week–if the political situation at home allows this–for talks with Kissinger. Details have not yet been worked out.)

Vest refused to discuss reports of an assassination plot against Kissinger to have been carried out by Palestinian gunmen during a scheduled visit by the Secretary to the Mosque of Omayed in Damascus. The assassination attempt reportedly was to have occurred when Kissinger passed through a crowded market place on his way to the Mosque. The Secretary cancelled the visit because his talks with Syrian President Hafez Assad took longer than expected. Vest said it was Department policy not to discuss publicly such incidents in the interests of the person who has been threatened.

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