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Israel, Finland hold secret nuke talks

JERUSALEM, April 11 (UPI) -- Secret talks between Israel and Finland took place last week on Israel's participation at a conference to ban nuclear arms from the Middle East, officials said.

A report in Haaretz Wednesday said Jaakko Laajava, Finland's undersecretary of state for foreign affairs, visited Jerusalem secretly last week and met with Israeli counterparts to discuss Israel's involvement in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty conference scheduled for the end of the year or early next year in Helsinki.

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The main item on the conference agenda is likely to be attempts by Iran and the Arab world to curb Israel's nuclear capability, the newspaper said.

Israel in the past opposed participating in such a conference, but seeks to coordinate its position with the United States, the newspaper said. In last week's meeting with the Finnish minister, Israeli officials neither agreed nor refused to participate in the conference, the newspaper said.

During his Jerusalem visit, Laajava met with Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Jeremy Issacharoff, as well as officials from the country's National Security Council and Atomic Energy Commission.

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