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Thursday, November 5, 1998 Published at 10:10 GMT

World: Middle East

Canada probes Israel passport claim

Lloyd Axworthy: says claims not supported by evidence

The Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, has ordered an investigation into allegations that Israeli secret service members are still using Canadian passports for covert operations.

But he admitted that there was no evidence to support new allegations, reported by a Canadian television programme on Tuesday, that Mossad is still seeking Canadian passports.

Israel undertook to take steps to end the practice in 1997, after Israeli agents were caught carrying doctored Canadian passports.

The agents bungled an attempt to assassinate Khaled Meshaal, a leader of the militant Islamic Hamas movement, in September in neighbouring Jordan.

After the incident became public, Canada received pledges from the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Foreign Minister, David Levy, that Israel would no longer use Canadian passports in covert operations.

On CTV network television, Mr Leslie Lewis said Mossad agents approached him twice recently, asking to use his passport and that of his daughter.

Mr Lewis said he had allowed his passport to be used by the Israeli government until last year's assassination revelations, but refused new requests this year to use the family's passports and alerted the authorities.

But Mr Axworthy said that Mr Lewis' assertions cannot be corroborated.

Israel has denied the allegations, saying "Mossad does not use Canadian passports."

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