DN - Defence Notes

Netanyahu to lead trade task force to India

10th January 2018 - 05:01 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Jerusalem

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will take 130 businessmen with him to India for trade talks which will also cover defence sales, a senior Israeli official said on 10 January.

Gilad Cohen, Israel’s foreign ministry deputy director general for Asia, said the six-day trip starting on 14 January was meant to further deepen political, trade and cultural ties.

India's defence ministry recently announced that it would buy 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel. The Barak missiles made by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems are to be used for India's first aircraft carrier which is under construction.

But at the same time, Rafael said India had cancelled a separate $500 million deal to purchase Spike anti-tank guided missiles.

Rafael executives are said to be in the trade delegation accompanying Netanyahu.

Gilad Cohen said: ‘The prime minister will be talking (to his hosts) on the whole range of issues which make up relations between Israel and India: water, agriculture, energy, culture, innovation, also defence.’

Israel is a major weapons supplier to India, selling it an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year.

In April 2017, the two countries signed a military deal worth nearly $2 billion which includes the supply over several years of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology.

Netanyahu's India trip comes after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Israel in July 2017, the first ever by an Indian premier.

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