Israel’s Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is to leave for India Sunday, a day after a high-level Indian security mission arrived in Tel Aviv. Peres is planned to meet with Indian President Kocheril Raman Narayanan, Prime Minister Atal Bihair Vajpayee, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, and Defense Minister George Fernandes.
According to the Israeli media, a wide range of issues is on the agenda, including the possibility of selling the Phalcon airborne early-warning system to India. In addition, India's current tension with Pakistan will be raised.
The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is slated to announce a visit to India in the near future, the first ever by an Israeli prime minister. According to a spokesman for Peres, the foreign minister's visit was planned before the current conflict between India and Pakistan flared anew last month. He said the aim of this tour is to reinforce the diplomatic and economic ties between the two states.
In a related development, an Indian security delegation, led by R.M. Abhyankar of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, arrived Saturday for talks in Tel Aviv. The delegation includes senior military and counter-terror experts.
Diplomatic Staffs Cut
Meanwhile, half of the diplomatic staff in the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi returned to Islamabad. Flight no. 2712 carrying 55 staffers reached Islamabad on Saturday afternoon. The diplomatic staff has been sent back home by Indian government in the wake of the growing tension between the two states after the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament.
While talking to the press at the airport, an official said, “We are happy that we have been sent back from the enemy country.” Pakistan Observer notes that in response to this Indian decision, Islamabad has also announced the expulsion of half of the staff deputed in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
Subsequently 55 officials of Indian High Commission left Pakistan Saturday evening from Islamabad by a special plane sent by New Delhi to carry them back. (Albawaba.com)
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