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The November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai by Islamist terrorists resulted in the killing six people at the Chabad House, including four Israeli Jews. India and Israel have stepped up security and military coordination, as Islamist terrorism has taken a major toll on both countries. Asia Times reported on April 2, 2009:
Israel emerged as India’s number one defense partner last week when it was revealed that New Delhi had signed a US$1.4 billion deal with the country to purchase a 70 kilometer shore-based and sea borne anti-missile air defense system… This is among the bigger defense deals between the two countries and the biggest military joint venture by India with a foreign country, overtaking the India-Russia BrahMos cruise missile project.
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) reported on its website on May 20, 2010:
In a state visit to Israel in February 2010, Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiradithya Scindia hailed the relationship between India and Israel as a “relationship between two souls,” based on shared morals and principles. In return, Israeli President Shimon Peres offered complete cooperation in India’s war against terror, stating “India’s security is as important to Israel as its own.”
In addition to diplomatic and defense ties, Israeli-Indian trade has grown exponentially, from $80 million in 1991 to about $4 billion in 2008. India and Israel signed five significant trade and economic agreements from 1993-1996, and negotiations on a free-trade agreement began earlier this year. India, the largest democracy in the world, with a population of 1.2 billion, might emerge as Israel’s most important economic partner in the near future.
Many young Israelis, upon completing their mandatory army service, choose India rather than Europe or the U.S. as their travel destination. A year ago, more than 45,000 Israelis traveled to India and, with business travel increasing on both sides, tourism may be another growth industry which will benefit both countries.
India’s relationship with Israel is indeed strong, albeit low key. Its historical ties to Iran and the Arab Gulf states, and the need for Middle Eastern oil to fuel its growing energy needs, compels New Delhi to keep its relations with Israel “under the radar.” Still, India never broke the sanctions imposed on Iran, and it is no longer willing to trade its relationship with Israel to appease the Arab-Muslim world.
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