Govt examining G-to-G deal to buy Spike missile from Israel

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Strengthening cooperation in key areas of trade and defence, including a possible inking of a multi-million dollar Israeli anti-tank missiles deal, is on the table during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Sunday, with its envoy today terming Indo- Israel ties as irreversible.

Gilad Cohen, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for Asia and the Pacific, would not discuss the Spike deal or weapons deals between India and Israel, during a briefing he gave Wednesday previewing Netanyahu's visit.

India had initially sealed the deal to buy Israel's Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with reports at the time saying India was set to purchase 8,000 Spike missiles and 300 launchers in a deal worth some $500 million.

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Israel has become a major defense supplier to India, selling an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year. The Israeli Prime Minister will be meeting his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on January 15.

Israeli Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon also downplayed India's stand at the United Nations General Assembly over the USA decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in place of Tel Aviv, saying New Delhi's view "cannot influence" Indo-Israel ties. "It is what the American people want us to do", said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, adding, "No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that". The date and place of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be agreed on in the near future, a source in the Israeli embassy in Moscow told TASS on Friday.

Israel on Friday said India's vote against it in the United Nations on Jerusalem issue can not be brushed aside but this episode will not impact the bilateral relations and stop both the countries achieve newer heights in ties. Over time, he continued, he is expecting a change in India's voting on issues relating to Israel at worldwide forums.

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