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Israeli spy David Kimche dead at 82

JERUSALEM - David Kimche, the Israeli spy-turned-diplomat who played a key role in the Iran-Contra scandal that rocked President Ronald Reagan's administration, has died. He was 82.

Kimche, who would later become involved in the Middle East peace process, died at home late Monday after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Kimche for the way he "combined elegance, patriotism and sophistication" and "exemplified how to fulfill a public mission."

A former journalist, the British-born Kimche began his career with the Mossad spy agency in the 1950s after immigrating to Israel, and rose to become deputy director of the agency. He later served as director-general of the Foreign Ministry in the 1980s, and most recently was serving as President of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.

Kimche was Israel's point man in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair, in which Washington authorized Israel to sell U.S. weapons to Iran in violation of an international embargo. The sales were an attempt to induce Iranian-backed guerrillas in Lebanon to free American hostages, but some proceeds went to anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

Also during the 1980s, Kimche pressed for normalization of ties with Egypt, and was a key proponent of Israel's failed effort to install a sympathetic government in Lebanon.

Kimche is survived by his wife, four children, and several grandchildren. - AP

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