Top Israeli defense official in India

The Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Brigadier General Pinchas Buchris is to arrive in India on Monday to hold meetings on Tuesday with officials from the Indian Ministry of Defense and security establishment.

T he Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Brigadier General Pinchas Buchris is to arrive in India to hold meetings on Tuesday, with officials from the Indian Ministry of Defense and security establishment.

General Buchris, a retired army officer who is roughly equivalent to the Indian Defense Secretary, is expected to meet the Defense Minister AK Antony, Defense Secretary Pradeep Kumar, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and the three service chiefs, General Deepak Kapoor, Admiral Nirmal Verma and Air Chief Marshal PV Naik.

The agenda of his meetings is reported by sources to be related to the Indo-Israeli Joint Working Groups on Counter-Terrorism and Defense Cooperation respectively, amongst other issues.

Significantly, this visit comes only two weeks after the visit to India of Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. The Chief of Staff of the Indian Army, General Deepak Kapoor had also visited Israel in November, just a month before General Ashkenazi’s visit.

India and Israel have seen a substantial strengthening of ties in the field of defense cooperation and trade. Israel has become the single largest supplier of defense materiel to India. Besides specialized small arms and night vision devices, Israel is supplying India with Phalcon radars for AWACS platforms, Barak and Spyder missile systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The two countries are also jointly developing Medium Range Surface-to-Air-Missile (MRSAM) systems and are closely cooperating in space, with India having launched an advanced Israeli spy satellite last year and Israel selling India a similar such satellite, which was launched last March.

An emphasis on intelligence-sharing and counter-terrorism efforts between the two countries has also been noticed, especially after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks which, notably, also targeted Israeli citizens. India is a much-favored destination for Israeli tourists and coming to India has become something of a rite of passage for Israelis, after completing their compulsory military service. Israel, along with other countries, issued urgent warnings of terror attacks on India a few months back.

This third official exchange in a span of a little more than a month indicates Indo-Israeli cooperation to be gathering even greater momentum.

Readers may also be interested to know that the General Buchris has resigned his position and is expected to leave office in mid-January, according to the Jerusalem Post.

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Follow Saurabh Joshi on Twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/saurabhjoshi Saurabh is a journalist based in New Delhi, India who has worked in print, television as well as internet news media. Besides defense and strategy, his past assignments have included reporting from Kashmir, coverage of terror strikes as well as election coverage from all over India. He has a Bachelors degree in Journalism (Honors) as well as a law degree (LLB), both from the University of Delhi.
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