JERUSALEM (Jun. 30)
Well planed sources indicated today that the visit to Israel by Richard Helms, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency may be to confer with Israeli leaders on the global implications of the Soviet penetration of the Middle East, a subject Secretary of State Regers declined to discuss when he visited Israel last May. Another possible reason advanced for Helms’ visit today was the interrogation of recent immigrants from the Soviet Union. Israel has allowed no such interrogation until now on grounds that it might jeopardize the emigration of other Jews from the USSR. A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed today that Helms was in Israel and that he has already met with Premier Golda Meir, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Foreign Minister Abba Eban. The Ministry made the acknowledgment only after the Helms visit, supposed to be top secret, was leaked to newspapers, apparently from sources in the U.S. The Helms visit is believed to be the first by a CIA head to Israel. CIA directors rarely travel abroad to avoid causing embarrassment to other governments. Some diplomats expressed the view that such a visit was an indication of U.S. interest and commitment in a country that was not likely to go unnoticed.
(In Washington, State Department spokesman Charles Bray refused to comment on Helm’s visit. He said he had noted the official Israel Government confirmation of Helms’ visit but he refused to comment on reports that the visit was to evaluate the military situation in the Middle East.) Observers here noted that Secretary Rogers visited Israel before Moscow and Cairo concluded their 15 year treaty of friendship and cooperation. Since then, Washington may have had second thoughts and Helms’ visit may be to make up what was lost by Rogers’ failure to discuss the global aspects of Soviet penetration of this region.