Israel and Syria on Saturday (1 June) set about the complicated process of separating their forces on the Golan Heights.
Israel and Syria on Saturday (1 June) set about the complicated process of separating their forces on the Golan Heights. Delegates from both countries, along with representatives from Egypt, the Soviet Union and the United States, met in Geneva for 90 minutes and afterwards issued a brief four-line communique, which said simply that more detailed discussions would be held on Sunday (2 June).
The meeting was held within the structure of the Israeli-Egyptian working group, set up five months ago the arrange a similar separation of their forces. The United States and the Soviet Union were joint sponsors of a motion in the United Nations' Security Council on Friday (31 May), which established a 1,250-man force to observe the disengagement.
After the Geneva meeting on Saturday, an Egyptian spokesman said the Israelis and Syrians had considered disengagement in general terms. He said the session was "only the beginning". The two sides have to formulate a detailed plan by Wednesday (5 June).
Israeli and Syrian delegates refused to comment.
On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim arrived in Geneva for brief talks on the disengagement. He met Lieutenant-General Ensio Siilasvuo, Commander of the UN force in the Suez Canal zone, and Chairman of the Geneva talks between Israel and Syria.
With the Israeli-Syrian disengagement pact signed, the task now is to prapare a detailed formula for the withdrawal.
The Soviet Union -- co-sponsor with the United States of the Security Council resolution to send United Nations troops to observe the disengagement -- also attended the meeting. The Chairman is Lieutenant-General Ensio Siilasvuo, from Finland, who is commander of the UN emergency force in the Suez Canal zone.
The Saturday meeting lasted about ninety minutes. Afterwards both the Israeli contingent and the Syrians refused to comment. A four-line communique said simply the group would meet again on Sunday, when the talks would be more detailed.
An Egyptian spokesman said later the first session discussed disengagement only in general terms. It was "only the beginning."
While the delegates were meeting in Geneva, United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim was on his way there for talks with General Siilasvuo. Then the Secretary-General was headed for the Middle East.