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Soviet Cement Deal: Concrete or Abstract

The question of whether the Soviet Union has agreed to sell Israeli firms a large quantity of urgently-needed cement remained unresolved today after a Soviet denial that any Russian cement would go to Israel for construction of “fortifications.”

Officials reported that agents from a number of countries have come to Israel to offer cement to Israeli firms. One was a Swedish agent for Russian cement who reportedly offered Solel Boheh, the Histadrut construction affiliate, 100,000 tons of cement. That offer, and others, are now under study by the Israeli firms.

Some sources here said that, despite the Soviet denial, it was possible that Russian cement moving in international markets might eventually turn up in Israel, where firms are ready to buy as much cement as they can find.

Last week, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was told by the manager of Avirom, an Israeli firm, that a Swiss firm was acting as intermediary in a reported transaction by which Avirom would purchase large quantities of cement from the Soviet Union, The manager said the idea of the purchase originated with the Swiss firm which Avirom represents in Israel, but added he doubted any deal would emerge.

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