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09 Sep 03,, 00:34
Israeli PM begins India visit

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has arrived in India for talks on strengthening military and political ties between the two countries.

During the four-day visit, Mr Sharon will meet his opposite number, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and other senior Indian politicians.

Left-wing groups say they are planning big rallies against Mr Sharon, whose trip has been denounced by Muslim groups.

It comes less than a month after the United States lifted objections to Israel selling India a $1bn early warning airborne radar system.

However, Indian officials say no deal on the system will be signed during Mr Sharon's trip.

'Three-way axis'

This is the first ever visit to India by an Israeli prime minister.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Delhi says it marks another step forward in relations between the two countries since they were first established 11 years ago.

Ariel Sharon is bringing three ministers with him and more than 30 senior executives.

Many of the businessmen are from defence industries, confirming the growing importance of military co-operation between the two countries, our correspondent says.

He adds that the final details are expected to be sorted out on the Phalcon early warning radar deal.

There are other key issues to be discussed, including counter-terrorism and the close links that India and Israel have with the United States.

Some analysts are talking of a developing three-way axis between Washington, Delhi and Jerusalem.

Protests planned

Ariel Sharon's trip is being conducted under very tight security - he is due in Bombay, also called Mumbai, on Thursday where two massive bombs two weeks ago left more than 50 people dead.

A planned visit by Mr Sharon to the Taj Mahal has been called off - although it has not been confirmed that this was for security reasons.

Muslim anger in India over Mr Sharon's policy towards the Palestinians has received support from left-wing parties, who aer angry at his visit.

India's neighbour, Pakistan, is also watching the visit closely.

Left-wingers are also planning to disrupt a visit by Mr Sharon to the Rajghat mausoleum in Delhi that pays homage to Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

They say Mr Sharon's hard-line policy towards the Palestinians makes him unfit to visit a centre dedicated to a champion of non-violence.


09 Sep 03,, 13:27
There are tentative plans for PM Sharon to go to Pakistan also if Pakistan officialy recognizes Israel, or so the rumor goes.

10 Sep 03,, 05:55
Israel and India do seem like natural allies so this doesn't suprise me. I anticipate a stronger relationship in the years ahead. It's stronger than we both have problems with Muslims. Israel is an ally of the US, and I think India would like a closer relationship with the US (even an alliance if possible). This is good for the US as well since it has been suggested that the way to deal with China is with India.

I could see Pakistan recognizing Israel. Israel is far away and thus not on their minds in the same way that it would be for say Saudi Arabia.