Indian army chief to visit despite cancellation

Defense officials believe Gen. VK Singh will visit at future date after scheduled arrival canceled in wake of Iran tension.

By
March 1, 2012 17:34
1 minute read.
Indian police inspect bombed car in New Delhi

Indian police inspect bombed car in New Delhi 390 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma)

 
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India’s military chief is expected to visit Israel despite a decision by the Indian government to cancel his trip this month, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The Indian Daily News and Analysis (DNA) news website said Thursday that Gen. V.K. Singh was scheduled to arrive in Israel between March 16 and 18 to discuss the growing defense cooperation between the two countries, but that the visit was canceled due to soaring tensions with Iran.

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Nevertheless, defense officials in Israel believe the visit will still go ahead on a future date.

In explaining this month’s cancellation, DNA quoted an Indian Defense Ministry official as saying, “The situation in Israel is not favorable for the general’s visit with war clouds gathering over Iran, especially after the recent attacks on Israeli diplomats in foreign countries, including in India.”

“During this period, [the] army chief’s official visit to Israel could send wrong signals to Iran. And it might create unnecessary misunderstanding,” the reported continued.

But India’s Defense Minister M.M. Pallam Raju cited a different reason for the cancellation, saying “instability in Syria” was the cause, according to the report.

India is the second largest importer of Iranian oil (after China), with 300,000 barrels arriving every day. The US is applying heavy pressure on India to reduce its dependency on Iranian oil, so far to no effect.

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At the same time, New Delhi and Jerusalem moved closer over the past decade, and Israel has become the second largest exporter of defense products to India, after Russia.

More than $10 billion in defense contracts have been signed between Israel and India since 1999, DNA said.

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