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Haaretz: Turkmenistan Snubs Former Mossad Agent as Israel Envoy.

For the past four months Turkmenistan has been stalling over the appointment of a former spy and close confidant of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as Israel's first ambassador to the country, the Israeli daily Haaretz has learned.<p>Israel in October nominated Reuven Dinel, a close associate of Lieberman and a former employee of the Mossad as its envoy to the Central Asian state. But in a rare diplomatic snub, Turkmenistan has withheld approval the posting.

'They are hoping that we'll take the hint and nominate someone else,' one senior diplomat told Haaretz.

Behind the rejection may lie an embarrassing episode that has dogged Dinel for more than a decade. In 1996 the Mossad man was expelled from Moscow after Russian security forces caught him accepting classified satellite photographs from senior army officers.

Lieberman first named Dinel as his choice for ambassador in July 2009. The controversial foreign minister is said to attribute special importance to the role, which involves forging new ties with and Muslim-majority country bordering Iran, which Israel sees as the greatest threat to its security.

Dinel has longstanding ties with Lieberman, who as minister of transportation appointed him in 2003 to oversee planning for the Carmel harbor in Haifa. Dinel is currently vice-president of the Israel Ports Company.

The foreign minister, who has suffered a series of setbacks over the past year, including a crisis in relations with Turkey, is said to see set great store by the former Mossad man's abilities and reportedly sees burgeoning relations with Turkmenistan as one of the crowning achievements of his term of office.

Dinel's appointment to Turkmenistan was officially confirmed by the government on October 25 and a few days later the foreign ministry formally contacted officials in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, to request consent for the selection.

According to diplomatic protocol, approval of new ambassadors is usually automatic and accompanied by a token bureaucratic process. But in an unusual break with established form, Turkmenistan continues to delay authorization.

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Publication:Palestine News Agency (WAFA) (Gaza, Palestine)
Date:Mar 1, 2010
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