Pakistan Foreign Ministry News

17 August 1999

Israel agreed to speed up shipments of arms and military equipment to India during the recent incidents in Kashmir.

The Indian government asked to accelerate the arms orders, which were submitted before the recent developments. The Israeli defense establishment decided to respond favorably to India's request, and India expressed its appreciation for Israel's help.

In May, the Indian army attacked a Pakistani-supported guerilla group in Kashmir, and since then the tension between the two countries has mounted. Two days ago, India downed a Pakistani naval reconnaissance plane, killing all 16 people aboard.

Israel and India have maintained extensive security cooperation in recent years. Prime Minister Ehud Barak has taken a serious interest in the development of relations with India, and today held a special debate on the matter. Barak is expected to make his first visit to New Delhi next year after the elections there.

The United States, which for years supported Pakistan, has recently improved relations with New Delhi, removing restrictions on sales of arms to India. Israel subsequently signed a contract for the sale of sophisticated electronic equipment to India, long delayed because of the American restrictions.

Israel also helped India overcome certain problems with the United States following the imposition of American sanctions in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1998.

"India is a large country that knows how to manage with Washington on its own," a senior Israeli official was quick to point out. "Our help concerned only specific matters."

At the foundation of the relationship between Israel and India is an understanding of the geopolitical similarity between the two countries, both surrounded by strong and hostile neighbors. "From the moment we established diplomatic relations seven years ago, we found a common language," said the senior official. "The deep understanding between us enabled us to have a fluent and clear dialogue with them."

The two countries maintain two forums for conferring, one between their respective foreign ministries and the other between the defense ministries. At periodic meetings, the parties exchange analyses of the situation in the Middle East and Asia.

The establishment of diplomatic relations with India also lead to a boost in civilian trade between Israel and India, which today totals about $700 million a year. India proposed that Israel employ Indian computer programmers, but the Interior and Trade and Industry Ministries oppose this, fearing a flooding of the Israeli market.