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Antony, Kapoor to visit Japan, Israel over the weekend

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Furthering military ties and joint coordination in anti-piracy operations will figure prominently when Defence Minister A K Antony and Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor undertake separate visits to Japan and Israel from Sunday.

Antony's visit will be the first by a cabinet minister to Japan after the new Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government was formed, Defence Ministry officials said here Saturday.

He will hold talks with his counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa to review defence interactions between the two countries and also discuss global and regional issues of mutual interest.

Apart from talks on joint army, navy and air force exercises, the two sides would discuss exchange of officers and soldiers to military academies and training establishments of both countries.

Already, the two countries' navies are coordinating efforts in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden to share the burden of patrolling in the sea brigand-infested waters.

Defence cooperation between India and Japan is dictated by the Joint Statement issued during then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Tokyo in May 2006 and the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation issued during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit in October last year.

During his four-day visit to Israel, Kapoor will hold discussion with senior Defence officials there on furthering the already strong military and strategic ties between the two countries.

With defence trade with Israel touching USD 9 billion since the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan, India is now focusing on co-development of weapons and allied systems including medium range missiles with Tel Aviv.

Kapoor will also visit important military installations and training institutions of the Israeli Defence Forces to look at their syllabus and advanced weapon systems developed by them.

With counter-insurgency and anti-terror operations between the focus of bilateral training in the recent past between India and Israel, both sides would discuss intelligence sharing and robust intelligence gathering mechanisms during the Army chief's visit, Defence Ministry officials said.

India is keen on working with Israel on submarine-launched cruise missiles, anti-ballistic missile systems, laser-guided systems, network centric operations, satellite surveillance, precision-guidance systems, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies.

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