India's Foreign Minister on First Visit to Israel to Improve Ties
Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh arrived in Israeli on Friday on the highest-level visit yet by an Indian official to the Jewish state, reported AFP, quoting embassy an official.
Singh's trip follows one by India's Home Minister L.K. Advani two weeks ago, which focused heavily on the issue of cross-border terrorism, said the agency.
Singh was due to meet Palestinian president Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah later on Friday before heading to the Gaza Strip, said AFP.
The Indian foreign minister is also to meet Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Barak, President Ezer Weizman and Foreign Minister David Levy.
The embassy official said Singh's four-day visit was primarily designed to improve bilateral ties with Israel, but stressed that it would "not focus on defense relations."
An Israeli official was quoted by Reuters as saying that "India and Israel have an active defense relationship."
He added that there is growing defense collaboration between the two countries.
New Delhi said in April that it planned to acquire Israeli aerial surveillance drones to bolster its defenses along a military control line with arch-foe Pakistan in the bitterly disputed territory of Kashmir, said Reuters.
Indo-Israeli political relations deteriorated in the early seventies with the worsening of the Arab-Israeli dispute after the 1967 Middle East war, said AFP - (Several Sources)
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