.contact us |.about us
News > International News ... ...
Israel's Ariel Sharon heads to India

( 2003-09-08 17:03) (Agencies)

Ariel Sharon flew to New Delhi on Monday for the first-ever visit to India by an Israeli prime minister, hoping to cement blossoming defense and trade ties that have led to talk of a three-way strategic alliance with the United States.

Analysts expect Sharon's meetings with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and other Indian officials, to put the seal of approval on the sale of an advanced Israeli airborne radar package.

The deal has sparked angry protest from India's nuclear rival Pakistan, which is eyeing the Sharon visit warily.

Sharon's huge entourage can also expect street protests by leftist and Muslim groups who note India has been a longtime supporter of the Palestinian struggle.

Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Muslim cleric of New Delhi's main mosque, called on "all who believe in justice and democracy" to join a protest march on Tuesday.

"Sharon is the man behind all savage and brutal activities of Israel against Palestinian Muslims," he said in a statement Monday.

The Israeli and Indian leaders are expected to discuss the possible sale to India of the Arrow missile defense system, developed by Israel and the United States; Iran's reported attempts to acquire nuclear weapons; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and the role of radical Islamic groups operating in Pakistan and Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan province divided between the South Asian rivals.

Sharon's visit comes just as the U.S.-backed "road map" for establishing a Palestinian state by 2005 has been dealt a serious blow by the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli-Palestinian relations have been further roiled by an Israeli military campaign to target the militant group Hamas after a Hamas suicide bomber killed 22 people on a Jerusalem bus on Aug. 19. Sharon said in an interview published Sunday in the newspaper Yediot Ahronot that all Hamas members were now "marked for death."

Methods to combat terrorism will be discussed in meetings between Sharon and Indian leaders, as the two countries have a Joint Working Group on counterterrorism.

Indian and United States defense officials met last month in Washington where they declared a "new strategic partnership."

Israel has its own deep friendship with the Americans, prompting Israeli and American analysts to talk of a possible three-way alliance in which India's proximity to the Gulf region could serve Israeli and U.S. efforts to pre-empt any hostile action by countries such as Iran.

"India could be an important security partner for both the United States and Israel," former Pentagon official Richard Speier wrote in a Sept. 3 analysis for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"Like them, India is threatened by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, missiles that deliver them and radical Islamist terrorists," Speier told the U.S.-based think tank.

After initial doubts, the United States recently gave its blessing for India's purchase of four Israeli-made PHALCON airborne early warning systems, at an estimated $1 billion for the package. That does not sit well with India's nuclear neighbors, Pakistan and China.

Hamid Gul, a retired army general and former head of Pakistan's spy agency, said Sharon's visit and the U.S.-approved deals were disconcerting.

"After using Pakistan as a front-line state in the war against terrorism, America has started encouraging Israel to sign new defense deals with India," he said. "America's policy will kill the conventional balance in the region."

India and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1992. Since then they have developed thriving commercial and military ties. Israeli experts say India has bought Israeli missiles, radar, communications equipment and guns, though the Israeli Defense Ministry refuses to comment.

Non-defense trade between the two countries was about $1.2 billion in 2002, with diamonds accounting for more than half, according to Israeli government data.

  Today's Top News   Top International News
+Taiwan huge rally opposes Lee's split plan
( 2003-09-08)
+Eight killed by rain-fuelled disasters
( 2003-09-08)
+WHO warns of SARS resurgence, urges vigilance
( 2003-09-08)
+Beijing looks at migrant-investor bid for HK
( 2003-09-08)
+Interest rate hike looming?
( 2003-09-08)
+Israel's Ariel Sharon heads to India

( 2003-09-08)
+2 GIs hurt; Forces raid Saddam loyalists
( 2003-09-08)
+Palestinian PM nominee asks US, European guarantee
( 2003-09-08)
+Arafat backs new Palestine leader
( 2003-09-08)
+Former Israeli PM slams assassination bid on Hamas leader
( 2003-09-08)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
  Related Articles  

+Israeli troops kill Palestinian in West Bank clash

+Palestinian PM, Arafat face off; violence flares

+Israeli killed in W.Bank shooting

+Israeli warplanes attack in southern Lebanon

+Arafat: 'Road map' is dead

+Israeli DM wants Arafat expelled soon

+Hamas militant killed in Israeli attack

+Israel warns it will not deal with Arafat

        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved