Israeli military attache met with alleged Pentagon mole

JERUSALEM, Sept 6 (AFP) -- A military attache at the Israeli embassy in Washington met with a Pentagon official suspected of leaking intelligence information to a pro-Israel lobby, the Maariv daily reported Monday.

The unidentified colonel, who has responsibility for intelligence matters, had several meetings with Larry Franklin who is alleged to have passed on confidential information on Iran and Iraq to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Intelligence sources quoted by the paper confirmed that meetings had taken place between the two men but said that they were routine.

"These were working meetings as part of his job, in accordance with procedure," one source said. "The IDF (army) intelligence attache holds situation assessments and meetings to exchange information.

"This is acceptable in all embassies all over the world by all countries and there is nothing unusual in this."

Israel flatly denied any involvement in espionage in Washington after the allegations emerged late last month, and sought to portray the affair as part of an internal power struggle within the administration of US President George W. Bush.

Israel pledged not to spy on the US after the hugely embarrassing arrest of Jonathan Pollard, an intelligence analyst for the US navy, who passed on thousands of secret documents. Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987.