Stand-off with China figures in Rajnath’s talks with Israeli defence minister

The main focus of the talks was speedy implementation of ongoing defence procurement programmes and further expansion of overall defence and security ties between the two countries

The defence ministry said Rajnath Singh and Benjamin Gantz expressed satisfaction at the progress of strategic cooperation between the two countries. File photo: PTI

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday (July 24) held a telephonic conversation with his Israeli counterpart Lt Gen Benjamin Gantz during which India’s border row with China in eastern Ladakh figured prominently, government sources said.

The main focus of the talks was speedy implementation of ongoing defence procurement programmes as well as further expansion of overall defence and security ties between the two countries, they said.

India’s border with China in eastern Ladakh figured prominently when the two defence ministers delved into the evolving regional security scenario, the sources said.

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They said issues relating to procurement of various weapons and ammunition by India from Israel on a fast-track mode was discussed during the conversation.

Singh apprised Gantz about major reforms initiated by India in the defence manufacturing sector and called for greater participation of Israeli defence firms in joint development of weapons and military hardware with Indian companies, they said.

India has been the largest buyer of Israel’s military hardware and the latter has been supplying various weapon systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years but the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains.

In a statement, the defence ministry said Singh and Gantz expressed satisfaction at the progress of strategic cooperation between the two countries and discussed possibilities of further strengthening the defence engagements.

“They also expressed satisfaction at the ongoing collaboration in research and development in fighting pandemic COVID-19 which will not only benefit the two countries but also aid the larger humanitarian cause,” it said.

The ministry said Singh invited greater participation of Israeli defence companies under new liberalised foreign direct investment (FDI) regime in defence manufacturing.

“The two ministers exchanged views on regional developments. Defence minister of Israel responded positively to an invitation from Singh to visit India at the earliest opportunity,” it said.

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