23. Telegram 3119 From the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1 2

TWA hijacking

I broached TWA hijacking briefly with Syrian PermRep Tomeh in GA corridors and urged SARG take earliest action to release two Israelis.

Tomeh said his govt is taking “positive attitude” and urged that we continue “quiet diplomacy”. He argued that public references to this affair as well as placing hijacking problem on SC or GA agenda while this affair unresolved, would make its solution much more difficult.

While emphasizing that he was placing no link between two cases and speaking only personally, he said it obvious that release two Syrian pilots, who had strayed over Israel and been held so long, would be helpful. He compared SARG concern re pilots with US concern for release helicopter crew in Korea.

When I pointed out legitimate Israeli anxiety that release pilots under these circumstances would merely encourage further hijackings, Tomeh said he understood but that pilots might perhaps be released two weeks or so after release of the Israelis. He was unwilling and presumably unauthorized to pursue matter further.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, AV 12 US. Confidential; Limdis. Repeated to Tel Aviv, Beirut, and Rome.
  2. UN Ambassador Yost noted that he had urged the Syrians to take early action to resolve the TWA Flight 840 situation. Syrian Ambassador to the UN Tomeh urged the U.S. to continue “quiet diplomacy” and suggested that Israel release the captured Syrian pilots a few weeks after the release of the Israeli passengers.