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India, Israel decide to expand defence ties, focus on developing futuristic technologies

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Defence Minister of Israel Benjamin Gantz during a bilateral meeting, in New Delhi. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  India and Israel have finalised a vision statement to further step up their overall defence cooperation, especially in the co-production of key military equipment and joint research and development of futuristic technologies for the armed forces.

The decision to further broad-base the already close bilateral defence ties was taken  on Thursday during wide-ranging talks between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his visiting Israeli counterpart Benjamin Gantz.

A "letter of intent" on enhancing cooperation in the field of futuristic defence technologies was also exchanged between Singh and Gantz, the defence ministry said.

The Israeli defence minister called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

"We have a great opportunity to deepen defence cooperation between our countries and to build on our shared values in order to contribute to global stability," an Israeli statement quoted Gantz as saying during his meeting with Modi.

"India is an industrial superpower and Israel is a technological superpower. Cooperation between our countries will expand the capabilities of both countries to contend with developing challenges," the Israeli defence minister said.

The defence ministry said both the ministers "acknowledged mutual security challenges and their convergences on a number of strategic and defence issues".

It said they expressed their commitment to working together to enhance cooperation in all forums.

"With the intention to further strengthen the existing framework of the Indo-Israeli defence cooperation architecture, both sides adopted the India-Israel 'Vision on Defence Cooperation'," the ministry said in a statement.

It said a wide range of issues concerning bilateral, regional and defence industrial cooperation were discussed at the meeting.

It is learnt that the Ukraine crisis and the situation in the Gulf region also figured at the meeting.

The Israeli embassy said, "The ministers discussed partnerships within the government-to-government framework, military training and technological cooperation with a focus on UAVs and defensive capabilities."

"India and Israel share similar and common challenges, including border security and fighting terrorism. By working together, we may increase our capabilities and ensure the security and economic interests of both countries," Gantz said, according to the embassy.

It said the discussions covered topics such as strategic global challenges, military cooperation, defence industrial cooperation and joint research and development.

"They also discussed a cooperation agreement signed between the Indian DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and Israel's Directorate for Defense R and D, which will enable the expansion of technological collaboration and development between the countries," the embassy said.

It said the ministers declared their intention to further develop defence cooperation in a manner that harnesses Israel's technological advancement and operational experience, together with India's "extraordinary development and production capabilities".

"The cooperation between the countries would be in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' vision," it said.

Singh described the meeting with Gantz as "warm and productive".

"Discussed key issues pertaining to defence cooperation and global and regional scenarios during the bilateral meeting. We place great value on our Strategic Partnership with Israel," the defence minister said in a tweet.

"Glad that both the countries adopted a 'Vision Statement' which will pave the way for defence cooperation in future. There is a broad consensus between both the countries on further strengthening the bilateral strategic and defence cooperation," he added.

Earlier in the day, Gantz visited the National War Memorial and paid homage to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

He was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour before his talks with Singh.

India has been a major buyer of Israel's military hardware. Israel has been supplying various weapon systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to India over the last few years, but the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains.

India procured a number of weapons and ammunition, including Spike anti-tank guided missiles, from Israel in the last couple of years.

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