Jerusalem: For the first time, an Israeli Defence Minister would be visiting India later this month to discuss the possibility of further expanding and deepening bilateral security ties.
"Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon will be meeting senior Indian officials to discuss the possibility of further expanding and deepening our defence ties and also attend the Bangalore Air show," sources here said.
Ya'alon had expressed his country's desire to participate in the 'Make in India' campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Home Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to Israel?last year and several Israeli defence industries had also backed the move.
Though India is Israel's largest purchaser of defence equipment and Israel the second largest supplier for India, next only to Russia, Ya'alon visit would be the first by an Israeli Defence Minister since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1992.
The visit is being attached significance in the background of warming ties between the two countries since BJP came to power in New Delhi and also past media reports in Israel saying that India had given a "polite refusal" to a request by then Defence Minister Ehud Barak to visit the country in 2012.
Modi had met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in a highly publicised meeting.
"We are very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky's the limit," Netanyahu then commented, reflecting on the possibility of bilateral cooperation.
The two leaders had also agreed on cooperation in several fields, including defence, cyber security, intelligence, agriculture, water management and renewable energy.
Sources here termed the invitation extended to the defence minister as "a major breakthrough" in security ties.
India recently unfroze a 2.5 billion USD deal for the purchase of hundreds of Israeli Barak missiles, a deal first signed in 2007 that had since been put on hold over concerns of irregularity.
Media reports said that Israel will sell 262 Barak 1 missiles to India over five years, starting December 2015.
The missiles are to be reportedly installed on 14 battle ships in the Indian Navy.