New Delhi, Jun 2 (EFE).- Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday met his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz in New Delhi to intensify cooperation in research and development in futuristic technologies to boost the defense and cybersecurity sectors for both countries.
Both Singh and Gantz, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations, adopted a letter of intent “on enhancing cooperation in the field of Futuristic Defence Technologies,” the Indian defense ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting, the ministers “acknowledged mutual security challenges and their convergences” on strategic and defense matters, and expressed their commitment to “strengthen the existing framework of the Indo-Israeli defense cooperation architecture,” according to the text.
“We reiterated our commitment to further expanding defense ties by presenting a common vision for cooperation, outlined in a joint declaration. Together we can increase our capabilities and ensure both nation’s security and economic interest,” Gantz tweeted.
The two leaders reviewed joint military activities, “which have increased despite the challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the Indian defense ministry.
Ties between India and Israel came under the scanner in January when the New York Times published a report claiming that the Indian government had acquired Israeli spyware Pegasus as part of a defense agreement signed during an official visit in 2017.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Tel Aviv in July 2017, becoming the first Indian head of state to visit Israel, in a marked shift on India’s stance towards the country.
At the time, New Delhi had signed a deal worth $2 billion to buy a cache of arms and intelligence equipment from Israel
The first spying allegations against the Indian government sprang up in 2021 after Project Pegasus, a joint investigation by more than 80 journalists from 17 media houses spread across 10 countries, claimed that the spyware had been used for targeted surveillance in India against politicians, activists and media professionals.
However, when questioned in the parliament, the government rejected the allegations of carrying out any kind of surveillance against specific people and denied having acquired Pegasus.
India maintains a close strategic collaboration with Israel, with a bilateral trade balance of $5.6 billion in the financial year 2018-2019, before the pandemic. EFE