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Sharon postpones visit by a day
September 04, 2003 21:33 IST
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has curtailed his visit to India by a day and decided to skip his trip to Agra slated for Monday.
When contacted, an Israeli Embassy spokesman said the Agra leg had been called off "due to technical reasons" and added "there is no change in the rest of the programme." Sharon will now come on Monday instead of Sunday night.
With India being viewed as a prime country for defence sales, top Israeli arms suppliers are accompanying Sharon on his landmark visit that is expected to give a major fillip to military cooperation between the two countries.
Sharon heads a high-power delegation that includes chiefs of major Israeli defence firms, both in the government and private sectors. Among them are General Arie Mizrachi, chairman of the board of Israel Military Industries and Jacob Toren, chief of the Armament Development Authority, Rafael.
With the US lifting restriction on sale of Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) by Israel to India, the issue is expected to figure during the parleys.
Defence Minister George Fernandes will be calling on the Israeli leader on September 10, official sources said. Both sides expect Sharon's visit to chart the way for a new military relationship between thet two countries.
Sharon will hold wide-ranging discussions with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the entire gamut of bilateral ties besides exchanging perceptions on the Middle East peace process, Iraq situation and other important regional and international issues.
Left parties, which have strongly supported the Palestinian cause, have threatened to hold demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy and some other venues during Sharon's visit. Keeping in view threat perceptions, a tight security cover is being provided during Sharon's visit.
Agreements for cooperation on health, agriculture and environment are expected to be inked during the visit. His visit will start with a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday morning which will be followed by his meetings with President A P J Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his deputy L K Advani and other senior leaders.
Sharon will also undertake a daylong visit to Mumbai where is likely to meet the Jewish community there. The Israeli leader is likely to have interaction with business and industry leaders to explore prospects of enhancing coopoeration in diversified fields.
Sharon's delegation includes Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, Culture and Education Minister Limor Livnat and Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz. Thirty leading business figures, including director of telecommunications, agricultural, pharmaceutical and venture capital companies, a 29-member media team is accompanying the Israeli Premier.
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