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Israelis Say No Contacts Taking Place with Soviet Diplomats

Israeli officials deny that any contacts have taken place on a diplomatic level with the Soviet Union aimed at restoring relations between Israel and the USSR. A report that Gideon Rafael, director general of the Foreign Ministry, met with Soviet diplomats last week was labeled “utter rubbish” by a Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday. Rafael “disappeared” from Copenhagen for 48 hours during a visit to Scandinavia. Subsequently. Israeli sources said he had goes to inspect a steel plant in Swedish Lapland, 800 miles from the Danish capital but close to the Soviet border. Newsmen recalled the similar “disappearance” of Premier Golda Meir from Stockholm last May after she attended the Socialist International conference in Helsinki. Mrs. Meir visited a resort in Finnish Lapland, close to the Russian border and it was widely believed–but categorically denied by the Israelis–that she met there with Soviet emissaries. Michael Arnon, the government’s secretary, told newsmen yesterday that the Cabinet was not informed of any talks held by Rafael. The Israeli official was in Scandinavia reportedly to give lectures. He is said to be slated soon for an assignment as a roving ambassador for “special missions.”

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