Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Casey said Saturday that third-world nations are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Soviet presence, giving the United States an unprecedented opportunity to exert economic influence. The CIA is broadening its activities beyond traditional intelligence gathering and has established a special unit of economists and technical analysts in an attempt to exploit Soviet weaknesses in the area, he said.
``This country's strategy in the third world must go beyond supporting freedom fighters,'' Mr. Casey said in a speech delivered at a conference on national security sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Presidency.
``There was a day, not too long ago, when Soviet-style collectivism was widely seen as the panacea for all the problems afflicting the third world,'' Casey said.
``No one, not even the Soviets and their friends, believes this today,'' he added.
``This is a tremendous reversal that could turn out to be one of the great historical turning points of our lifetime,'' he said.
``But it will only work out this way if the indigenous third-world forces resisting Marxism-Leninism, together with the US and the West, can act to take advantage of this open window of opportunity to advance democracy.''
Casey called for a partnership between government and industry to provide technology, investment, and education to the third world nations.