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Indo-Israel defence ties 'out of closet' now: Israeli Minister

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BENGALURU (PTI): Israel on Wednesday strongly backed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' pitch and said the maiden visit by its Defence Minister was a sign that the defence relationship was "out of closet" now.

Asked whether his visit was an indication that India was willing to acknowledge the strong defence relations that the two countries share, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon said, "That is right. We were ready to expose relations earlier but it was up to the Indian government to take it out from the closet."

Ya'alon, the first Israeli Defence Minister to visit India since the two countries established full diplomatic relations in 1992, is here to attend the 'Aero India' show and hold talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar.

Asked if Israel had waited for long to bring the relations out of the closet, he said, "Sure."

It has been India's policy for long to keep the bilateral military ties under wraps due to international and domestic political sensitivities even though Israel is among one of the top defence suppliers to India.

Ya'alon said Isarel was participating in the air show to share its technology and experience with the Indian government and companies.

"We appreciate the PMO for this policy with regard to the State of Israel. I appreciate his personal invitation to be here for the first time. And of course we are following Modi's 'Make in India' initiative," he said.

The Minister said his visit was part of efforts to understand what can be done under the 'Make in India' initiative in a way that it can offer technological know-how in order to produce certain products in India.

"For me, it is a very significant visit and I believe that this significant visit is very good for relations between India and Israel and especially for the defence industry," he said.

He hoped the issue of the ban on Israeli defence firm IMI would be "resolved in the near future".

The Israeli Minister said his country was "open" to all kinds of cooperation with India in the defence sector under the 'Make in India' initiative.

Ya'alon said he was proud to be the first Israeli Defence Minister to visit India.

"We see that as a sign of the deepening of relations between the two countries not only in defence but in many sectors too," he said.

The Minister said India and Israel have many shared challenges and interests.

On the type of cooperation between India and Israel, Ya'alon said, "We're very flexible and we're here to address the Indian needs. We're willing to work in joint production, joint development... We're open for every option to work closely with our Indian counterparts."

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon said, "There is no doubt that this wonderful cooperation and partnership in defence and other sectors are contributing to the security of both the countries and will continue to do so in future."

Ya'alon met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the sidelines of the event and discussed Indo-Israel cooperation in the defence sector.

The Israeli Minister is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

He will also be the guest speaker at the R K Mishra Memorial Lecture, organised by the Observer Research Foundation.

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India  Israel  Defence  Minister  
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