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Israeli army chief in Delhi

September 09, 2008 15:30 IST

Israel's Army Chief Major General Avi Mizrahi is on a three-day visit to India beginning Tuesday to enhance the already-growing defence ties between the two countries.

General Mizrahi, the Ground Forces Chief of the Israeli Defence Forces who flew in to New Delhi is scheduled to meet Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor later in the day, defence ministry sources told PTI.

On his arrival, the general first laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and was later given a guard of honour at the defence ministry headquarters in South Block.

During his stay, he is likely to meet Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh but would miss Defence Minister A K Antony and his deputy M M Pallam Raju who are currently abroad.

He will also meet the Indian Navy chief and the Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Admiral Sureesh Mehta.

The Israeli army chief, during his meetings with the Indian defence ministry and armed forces top brass, will discuss matters of mutual concern and interests, including joint military training and exercises between the forces of the two countries, sources said.

Of particular interest to Indians is the Israeli offer to exercise and train in anti-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations, sources added.

India and Israel have been sharing a greater defence cooperation since diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Tel Aviv were established in 1992.

The ties have become stronger in the recent times with India emerging as the largest purchaser of Israeli arms since the beginning of the 21st century.

India has purchased from Israel the Phalcons Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems that would be fitted onto the Indian Air Force's three IL-76 heavy lift transport aircraft.

That apart, India has already brought the Green Pine radars that warn of incoming enemy ballistic missiles. Indian Armed Forces are also users of Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles for intelligence, reconnaisance and surveillance purposes.

Indian Navy has recently bought the Barak surface-to-air missile from Israel that ran into rough weather after charges of kickbacks flew thick and fast.

Israel is also offering India the Arrow-II anti-ballistic missile for its missile defence systems in competition with the US' Patriot missile systems.

The Indian Army is a major user of Israeli night vision equipment, particularly in Kashmir valley along the Line of Control with Pakistan.