Israeli Chief of Staff on India visit from today
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 08, 2009, 09:58
Jerusalem: Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi will be on a three-day visit to India from Tuesday during which he will meet the security top brass in the country and seek to give a further push to the burgeoning bilateral defence ties.

"The visit to India is part of the process of strengthening the ties between Israel and India and the nations' militaries," the Israeli army said in a statement.

Ashkenazi will be arriving in Delhi today in what will be the first such trip by Israel's Chief of Staff since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1992.

The visit comes almost a month after Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor visited the Jewish state as "part of ongoing exchanges" between the two countries.

The Israeli Chief of Staff will be meeting Kapoor, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and the chiefs of Indian Navy and Air Force during his trip.

He is heading a high-level delegation comprising Israel's Head of the International Military Cooperation Department, Col Dan Hefez, the Israel Defence Forces Attache in India, Col Yossi Rafaelov and the director of the office of the IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt Col Amos HaCohen.

Israel has become India's No 1 supplier of arms and ammunitions, overtaking Russia. The bulk of supplies constitute about 50 percent of Israel's defence exports and about 30 percent of India's imports.

Israel has supplied India a range of defence products including Barak missiles, assault rifles, night fighting devices, radar network, hi-tech electronic warfare systems and information technology related equipments.

The Indian Air Force last May received the first of the three Phalcon airborne early warning radar systems (AWACS) from Israel as part of a USD 1.1 billion deal in a big boost to its surveillance capabilities in the region.

The next delivery is expected in the first quarter of the coming year.

Israeli defence officials have expressed confidence in the past that the weapons sales to India are free of the risk that the hardware may fall in the hands of a third party without Israel's knowledge.

Defence industries from both the countries have also launched joint ventures whereby assembly of Israeli products are being done in India, while they have also cooperated in development and marketing of defence products like the Dhruv helicopter.

India had last year launched an Israeli satellite into orbit from the Sriharikota space centre.


First Published: Tuesday, December 08, 2009, 09:58

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