Wednesday, September 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India, Israel to fight global terrorism
Sharon, PM hold wide-ranging talks
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Deputy Prime minister L. K. Advani shakes hand with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Deputy Prime minister L. K. Advani shakes hand with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in New Delhi on Tuesday.
— PTI photo

New Delhi, September 9
India and Israel took giant leaps forward in bolstering the existing strategic and security ties and forging new ones as visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today held talks with the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.

The swath of the talks Mr Sharon had with the Indian leadership can be gauged by the fact that apart from restricted-level and delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister for over 90 minutes and 40-minute-long talks with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Mr Sharon also had meetings with Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, National Security Adviser and Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha. He will meet Defence Minister George Fernandes tomorrow.

Israel is understood to have agreed to share its expertise with India in such fields as anti-hijacking, anti-fidayeen operations, surveillance satellites, defence satellites and pledged to work in close collaboration with India in intelligence sharing, space exploration and fight against terrorism.

“Going beyond the bilateral relations” is the newest mantra in Indo-Israeli relations, a senior official told The Tribune.

Besides, the defence-to-defence cooperation, the two countries are poised for a quantum leap as India is going to get substantial help from Israel, both in terms of equipment and expertise.

It is also understood that the much-awaited Phalcon radars deal, worth $ 1.3 billion is on the verge of fruition. The deal for the Phalcons — the airborne early warning command and control systems— is likely to come through by the end of this month. Israel will also be making available to India Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs).

In the wake of the Vajpayee government’s recent decision to refurbish the “Ghatak” force, the “Ghatak” jawans and officers of the Indian Army will be trained by Israel in anti-terrorist operations.

Each of the 400-odd Infantry battalions of the Indian Army has a “Ghatak” platoon which the government now intends to equip with the latest arms and equipment. A platoon has 70 to 80 soldiers.

At the end of the talks with the Prime Minister and before the start of the banquet at Hyderabad House tonight, the two countries inked six agreements relating to environmental protection; combating psychotropic and illicit drugs and narcotics; visa-free travel for diplomats, health and medicine; and cooperation in education and in culture.

On the political, diplomatic and economic side, India and Israel agreed to expand and diversify their relations and find innovative strategies for giving a major impetus to bilateral ties.

The need for evolving joint marketing strategies, co-production and joint research and development in commercial fields was stressed by both sides. The two countries are also going to have joint ventures in agriculture and intensify cooperation in science and technology and start in a big way cooperation in space.

A running theme at almost all meetings Mr Sharon had today with the Indian leadership was the necessity for New Delhi and Tel Aviv to strengthen their cooperation in the global war against terrorism and a vibrant discussion on the West Asia peace process.

It was on the West Asia peace process that the two countries had varied perceptions, a problem which, officials said, is going to be reflected in the Joint Statement which is likely to be agreed upon by the two countries.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Director-General of the Ministry of Defence, Mr Yaron Amos, today held discussions with Air chief S. Krishnaswamy and Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister V.K. Atre, who is also the DRDO chief. Mr Amos is going to meet the Defence Secretary, the Army chief and the Naval chief tomorrow.



Vajpayee hosts banquet in Sharon’s honour
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 9
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said that India was mounting international pressure on countries that supported terrorism and called for a global response to combat the menace.

At a banquet hosted in the honour of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Mr Vajpayee said in the relatively short span of 11 years of formal diplomatic relations, New Delhi and Tel Aviv had established a “vibrant partnership.”

On defence cooperation, he said it rested on the foundation of mutual understanding of security concern. “Our people to people interaction has been enriched through tourism, student exchanges and cultural contacts. All these strands are tied together by a political understanding between us,” he said.

Observing that India was engaged in a struggle to defeat terrorism, he said New Delhi was also mounting international pressure on those who supported it.

Mr Vajpayee referred to West Asia and the Gulf region as a part of India’s extended neighbourhood with which India had cultural and civilisational links.

He said he had wide-ranging talks with Mr Sharon, including a number of “new ideas to strengthen our bridges of friendship by more fully exploiting our comparative advantages. I have no doubt that your visit and our discussions will be a catalyst for faster movement in the right direction.”


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