New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday held a telephonic conversation with his Israeli counterpart Lt Gen Benjamin Gantz during which India’s standoff 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 standoff with China in eastern Ladakh figured prominently when the two Defence Ministers delved into the evolving regional security scenario,” the sources told news agency Press Trust of India.
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.
Mr Singh apprised Lt Gen 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, the sources told news agency PTI.
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 deals have largely remained behind the curtains due to national security reasons.
In a statement, the Defence Ministry said Mr Singh and Lt Gen 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 Defence Ministry said Rajnath 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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