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Increasing military cooperation between India and Israel

 India is the world's largest arms buyer. It has increased its weapons imports by over 100 per cent in the last five years. It now accounts for 14 per cent of the world's total arms imports. One of the countries topping the list of suppliers to New Delhi is Israel.

TEL AVIV: India is the world's largest arms buyer. It has increased its weapons imports by over 100 per cent in the last five years. It now accounts for 14 per cent of the world's total arms imports.

One of the countries topping the list of suppliers to New Delhi is Israel.

Yiftah Shapir, director of the Military Balance Project at Institute for National Security Studies, said: "The partnership is strong because we have a lot to sell them and a lot of things that they need."

The partnership saw trade between the two countries hit the US$6 billion mark last year.

Vani Rao, deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy, said: "Israel is a very important partner for India in the defence sector and this in fact is one of the pillars of the relationship between the two countries."

Yotam Feldman is an Israeli journalist and filmmaker. He has researched Israel's arms dealings for years and released a movie about Israel's expansive military industry.

He said: “India sees the Israeli experience as very relevant so they are in a very intensive process of acquisition of Israeli arms including drones and missiles.”

The Ministry of Defence repeatedly declined Channel NewsAsia’s interview requests, citing security and confidentiality as reasons.

But a recent British government report revealed which countries Israel exported weapons to in the last five years.

India was on the list and controversially, so was Pakistan.

Israel has strongly rejected the report, saying it does not export weapons systems to Pakistan.

It added that Israel’s policy in this regard is “very clear” and would not do anything that could undermine India’s security.

Adding fuel to the fire is India's relationship with Iran, a country which Israeli leaders accuse of building a nuclear bomb to attack the Jewish state.

Shapir said: “India always tried to keep its relationship with Iran, including military cooperation, close. They feel very uneasy about hostility between Israel and Iran, and an Israeli attack in Iran would be a very big problem for the Indians and they know it.”

But security concerns for both countries means this military partnership is set to continue for a long time to come.

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