The Indian military chief is in Israel to further foster the already close ties between the two armies.  

Indian Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha landed in Israel on Sunday for a four-day visit as a guest of the IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot and Chief of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Major General Amir Eshel.

On Monday, Raha was received by an honor guard at IDF headquarters at the “Kirya” in Tel Aviv where he arrived for meetings with top IDF officials.

“This visit is a step towards strengthening the relationship between the two states,” the IDF said in a statement.

Raha’s visit “is aimed at consolidating the existing robust bilateral military to military cooperation between India and Israel,” the Indian military stated Sunday, and the meetings with top Israeli officials “will focus on a wide range of issues pertaining to the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries.”

“In recent years, there have been several close and high level contacts at the political and military levels between the two countries. Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha’s visit to Israel would further boost bilateral relations between two Air Forces and is likely to provide greater convergence at the operational level,” the statement said.

Arup Raha visit

Indian Air Marshal Arup Raha received by an IDF honor guard. (IDF Spokesman)

Raha is reciprocating a visit by Eshel to India in December.

Israel and India have significantly advanced relations and cooperation between the two countries and this collaboration is manifest in the ties Israel’s Air Force (IAF) has forged with the Indian air force.

Eshel said during his visit that the IAF “considers the Indian Air Force a strategic ally and that cooperation is important.”

Israel and India have also been working on bilateral military deals and projects, collectively worth around $3 billion, ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to the Jewish State later this year.

Israel and India’s relations have warmed up considerably, and especially since  Modi took office.

In February 2015, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India, where the two countries finalized a major defense deal worth more than $1.5 billion.

Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Modi met at the UN in September 2014, the first such meeting in over a decade.

“We’re very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky is the limit,” Netanyahu stated after their meeting.

Israel and India, which have had full official diplomatic relations for the past 23 years, enjoy the sharing of technological development, and India is one of Israel’s biggest clients in the defense technologies market. In 2013, India was Israel’s 10th-largest trading partner and its third-largest in Asia, after China and Hong Kong.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel


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