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Officials Say They ‘know Nothing’ of Israeli Presence in Ethiopia

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Government officials said today that they “know nothing” of an alleged presence of Israeli defense experts in Ethiopia. No further reaction or other comment could be elicited.

The disclaimer was made in connection with reports in recent weeks that there was some Israeli involvement–along with the known massive Cuban and Soviet involvement–in Ethiopia, which finds itself locked in increasingly grim struggles with Eritrean separatist rebels and Somali irregulars. According to an American report several months ago, Israeli planes occasionally touch down at Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and are taken into closed hangars.

This week the Washington Post carried a story attributed to U.S. sources, apparently meaning intelligence sources, alleging that a few dozen Israeli secret servicemen have been in Ethiopia training or advising local forces in counter-insurgency.

Non-governmental observers here say it must irk the Israeli government that the U.S. sources saw fit to leak this story. The leak plainly reflected American displeasure that Israel ostensibly is aiding the side helped by the Soviet Union and Cuba while the U.S. appears to have cast its lot with Ethiopia’s enemy, Somalia.

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