US Calls off Air Force Drill with Israel over China Deal Dispute

Published July 2nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The US Air Force has canceled a joint exercise with the Israeli Air Force after the US Department of Defense issued guidelines in light of the continuing dispute between the two countries over Israel's agreement to sell Phalcon spy-planes to China, reported Haaretz newspaper.  

The Americans did not offer any further explanation for the cancellation, but Israel believes that the Phalcon deal is the reason, said the paper. 

The maneuvers, which were set to take place in the United States, were to be a reciprocal training exercise after the US Air Force visited Israel following an invitation to train in Israel, Haaretz added.  

Israeli pilots were set to fly American Air Force F-15s and F-16s. 

Israeli Air Force Commander, Dan Halutz, last week described the dispute over the sale of the AWACS-fitted planes as "a dark cloud resulting from a series of misunderstandings."  

"The change of atmosphere at even the lowest levels is likely to have long-term effects. It is important that a solution be found as soon as possible," he said, adding, "as time passes, the damage amounts into a more significant thing."  

We cannot allow ourselves to harm our excellent relationship with the Americans, he was quoted as saying - Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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