Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Ellul 5763 - September 10, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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India and Israel Strengthen Ties
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon flew to New Delhi and Bombay this week for the first prime-ministerial visit there since the two countries first established full ties 11 years ago. He was received with great ceremony.

Sharon was greeted by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. After the greeting, Sharon went to lay a wreath on a monument to India's founder, Mahatma Ghandi.

The high visibility visit signals the dramatic blossoming of ties between India and Israel over the last decade.

In brief comments to reporters, Sharon said Israel recognizes India as one of the most important countries in the world, views it as a sister democracy, and hopes his visit will strengthen the relationship between the countries. The Indian prime minister said he is confident Sharon's visit would boost military and trade ties with Israel without diluting India's support of the Palestinian cause.

Israel and India both face Islamic extremists, and both seek American support. But India has a very large Moslem population of its own.

Negotiators will spend the three-day visit working out several deals. One, for three plane-mounted Phalcon radars, manufactured by Israel's state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries, is valued at $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion.

The United States is watching the deal with interest.

America's interests in Asia have shifted since the Cold War, when Pakistan was supported as a bulwark against Communist China. Now, Islamabad is plagued with Islamist extremism while Pakistan's foes in India, the world's largest democracy, have embraced unambiguously the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

After the United States approved Israel's Phalcon deal with India in May, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf assailed the United States, but by summer he was calling for a national debate on recognizing the Jewish state.

Analysts attributed Musharraf's reversed course to Islamabad's jitters at the prospect of being bested by India in a future air war.

India recognized Israel in 1950 but full diplomatic relations between the two countries were not established until 1992. Non- military trade has risen to $1.6 billion this year from $200 million in 1992.

Israel's population of 6.7 million is minuscule compared with India's almost one billion citizens.


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