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Russian Mine-sweepers Withdraw

The Russian mine-sweepers that have been operating provocatively close to Israeli-controlled waters in the Gulf of Suez off Sinai have been withdrawn, it was learned here today. The Russians agreed to keep their ships out of the region, reportedly as a result of Israel’s complaint to the United Nation’s Emergency Force (UNEF) and UNEF talks with the Soviet authorities.

According to a report reaching here from the area, the Russians announced their withdrawal by loudspeaker to an Israeli navy patrol boat of the “Dabour” class which approached a T-43 type mine-sweeper in the Gulf of Suez today. The voice on the speaker stated in English that there would be no more penetrations into Israeli-controlled waters as the sweepers had completed their mission of clearing the mine fields planted by the Egyptians. After the announcement, the Russian craft sailed westward away from Sinai and no further Soviet naval vessels were sighted.

Soviet provocation–the motivation for which is still unclear–reached a peak Tuesday when a mine-sweeper turned its high pressure water hoses on Israeli patrol boats signaling it to leave the coastal waters. There were no casualties or damage.

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