Israeli Diplomat’s Visit to Finland Not Aimed at Making Contacts with Russians

Ehud Avriel, a veteran Israeli diplomat, has reportedly gone to Helsinki, Finland, as an observer at the second round of the European Security Conference, it was learned today. There was no official confirmation of Avriel’s trip, and Foreign Ministry sources said the diplomat was being considered for an assignment in Europe but “no decision has been reached yet.”

Sources here stressed that Avriel’s mission was not aimed at making contact with the Soviets and said he would make no effort to meet with Russian officials. That possibility was the subject of speculation in view of Avriel’s past role as an advisor on Soviet affairs to the Foreign Ministry.

Sources also said that Israel’s interest in the Helsinki conference centered on its security aspects relating to the Eastern Mediterranean, although that issue has not been put on the agenda because several states are opposed. Israel also wants to know if the European governments mean to include Soviet Jews who want to emigrate to Israel when they recently raised the issue of free travel for the peoples of Western Europe, the sources said.

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