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Khadam, Ennals Discuss Syrian Jews

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Informed sources said today that the subject of Syrian Jews was “touched on” at a meeting here yesterday between the Syrian Foreign Minister Abdul Halim Khadam and David Ennals, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, but that “there were no developments.” Earlier reports of the meeting had claimed the subject was not broached. Observers noted that if the government is still willing to intercede with the Syrians on behalf of that country’s Jews, it appears anxious to avoid over-publicizing the fact.

Ennals meeting with Khadam was seen as an indication that relations with Damascus have returned to normal. Last month Syria warned Britain that its “interference” in Syrian affairs could endanger bilateral relations. The warning came after British diplomats conveyed to the Syrians Whitehall’s concern over the persecution and harassment of Syria’s Jewish community.

Yesterday’s meeting, described as “friendly and cordial” also took up the Middle East situation. According to Foreign Office sources, Khadam stressed the need to maintain the momentum of peace negotiations and said his government would welcome British participation in the Geneva peace conference. The sources said that possible British arms sales to Syria was also “briefly mentioned” and that Ennals explained that Britain was prepared to consider such requests “so long as the arms would not endanger the achievement of a just solution of the Middle East conflict.”

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