35. Telegram 7660 from the Embassy in Italy to the Department of State 1 2

Dept pass Tel Aviv Beirut, US Int Cairo

Subject: Three-Way Swap and TWA.

Ref:

  • Rome 7571
1.
Foreign Ministry has given us substance two telegrams from Italian Ambassador Damascus which indicate three-way swap of assorted Egyptian, Syrian, Israeli captives and hijack passengers is back on track.
2.
Foreign Ministry informs us that ICRC Representative Renard is in close touch with Ambassador Riccardi in Damascus. With respect to reftel suggestion that Italians might wish to press Syrians to move ahead on transaction, Renard believed he should continue to act alone. Riccaroi comments however that if TWA Vice President Wilson believes time has come to set final departure time for aircraft, then Riccardi believes it might be helpful for him to take action along lines of reftel suggestion.
3.
In later message Riccardi reports Renard has told him in strictest confidence that Israelis have accepted SARG request and will release total of 13 Syrians including two MIG pilots on condition that two Israeli detainees are released in advance and turned over to Israeli Embassy in third country capital, probably Athens. Israeli advance release requirement is for flying time from Damascus to Athens.
4.
Riccardi comment is that if SARG again tries to up price and insists on simultaneous release, then in his opinion, he should and would make representation to SARG to avoid such price increase. Riccardi believes in that case it would be extremely helpful if Cairo and Moscow would also weigh in.

Note: Not passed above by OCT.

Martin
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, AV 12 US. Secret; Immediate; Exdis
  2. According to information from the Italian Foreign Ministry, the TWA Flight 840 three-way exchange had resumed. ICRC Representative Renard told the Italian Ambassador that the Israelis had accepted the Syrian request and would release the 2 pilots plus 11 other Syrians detainees if the Israelis were released in advance.