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India-Israel likely to sign $ 2 bn defence deal

Defence deals worth $2 billion likely to be inked in the next few years

Nayanima Basu  |  New Delhi 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) with Defence Minister of Israel, Moshe Ya'alon at a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday Picture by PTI

Israel Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and it is expected both sides will sign defence deals worth about $2 billion in the next few years. Israel is also seeking greater cooperation with India in the fields of agriculture, water management and environment.

During Thursday’s meeting, Modi is believed to have expressed “satisfaction” over the cooperation between the two countries across sectors. He also discussed the matters raised during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in September last year.

This is the first visit by a high-level Israeli official to India since both countries established full diplomatic ties in 1992.

“Israel is very optimistic in implementing Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make In India’ initiative…We are ready to share our technology and defence preparedness in government-to-government interactions with India,” Ya’alon said at an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation on Thursday.

Modi and Ya’alon discussed ways to increase collaboration in the field of defence, considering India has increased the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in this sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent. Matters related to national security and counter-terrorism were also discussed.

India has already inked a deal to buy ‘Spike’ anti-tank missiles worth $525 million from Israel. On condition of anonymity, a senior official told Business Standard defence deals worth $2 billion were in the pipeline. On Thursday, the Kalyani Group announced a tie-up with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems to jointly develop high-tech defence equipment such as advanced missile systems and remote weapons at a facility near Hyderabad.

“When it comes to India-Israel ties, the sky is the limit,” Ya’alon said. India is biggest purchaser of defence equipment from Israel, while Israel is India’s second-largest supplier of defence equipment, after Russia.

“The relationship between India and Israel is not against anyone. We aspire for peace. We see India as a partner and friend. We hope India can act as a bridge between Israel and other hostile countries,” the minister said.

On Wednesday, the Israeli minister had a brief meeting with Modi on the sidelines of the ‘Aero India’ show in Bengaluru. At that event, he also held a meeting with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

“Israel had expressed desire to share cutting-edge weapons technologies with India. Both countries are willing to move forward. During my visit to Israel in November last year, I had invited Israel to become a partner in the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the defence sector,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter after a meeting with Ya’alon on Thursday.

In an effort to seek greater cooperation with India in the field of water management and environment, Ya'alon said Israel was short of water and land, hence, they made desert bloom by melons and watermelons through technological innovation.

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First Published: Fri, February 20 2015. 00:48 IST