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Defence ties with Israel to come out of closet

Last Updated : 18 February 2015, 19:01 IST
Last Updated : 18 February 2015, 19:01 IST

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Signaling an end to decades of hush-hush bilateral military relations, Israel on Wednesday said defence cooperation is now “out of the closet” and the arid nation plans to contribute to the ‘Make in India’ campaign.

The maiden presence of Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon at Aero-India may mark a new chapter in defence collaboration as New Delhi looks outward for new defence technologies to boost the manufacturing sector. 

 “We were ready to expose relations earlier but it was up to the Indian government to take it out from the closet,” said Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon after inaugurating the Israel pavilion at the show.

He is the first Israeli defence minister to visit India since 1992 when full scale diplomatic relations was established between India and Israel. Ya’alon met his counterpart Manohar Parrikar on the sidelines of the air show before flying to New Delhi where he would be giving a public lecture on Thursday.

 The visiting minister said Israel had waited for long to bring the relation out of closet and appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy on Israel.  As India imports critical defence technologies from Israel, there are regular exchanges between the armed forces and defence personnel. The last major visit from the Indian side was that of the Defence Secretary R K Mathur in June, 2014 for the Joint Working Group meeting.

Mathur’s visit was preceded by an official tour of the then Army Chief General Bikram Singh in March 2014. High level officials from Israel visited India too. But for years, the bilateral military ties were kept under wraps due to international and domestic political sensitivities.

 The minister said his visit was part of an effort to understand what can be done under ‘Make in India’. “This (visit) is significant especially for defence industry,” he said. Asked on the blacklisting of Israeli defence firm IMI, he hoped that the ban would be resolved in the near future.

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Published 18 February 2015, 19:01 IST

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