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Preparations Begin for UN Palestine Conference

The European regional meeting which opened here yesterday to prepare for the United Nations sponsored conference on Palestine, ran into an embarrassing problem today. It was unable to find a chairman from what the organizers consider a “respectable” country, meaning an at least moderately important European state.

Both Austria and Yugoslavia declined but the latter agreed to provide one of three vice chairmen. The others were from Czechoslovakia and Malta. Delegates from most Western European countries have failed to show up. Participants at the preparatory meeting are Finland, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Austria, Malta, Spain, Turkey and Cyprus.

The conference, to be held here August 16-24, has been ill-starred from the outset. Originally scheduled for Paris, the French government refused to play host, as did the Austrian government. The Swiss agreed to have the gathering at Geneva, but only reluctantly. The official objections by all three governments was the severe security burden the conference would impose and the possibility that it would attract terrorist elements.

Nevertheless, preparations are continuing. The UN sent a special press officer from its headquarters in New York to help the local staff. He is Mahmoud el Said, an Egyptian. Meanwhile, an exhibition of photographs from Arab refugee camps has been put on display in the corridors of the Palais Des Nations. The photographer is a Swiss, Jean Mhor.

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