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Peres Says Israel Ready to Help and Support India's Anti-Terror Fight - 2002-01-08

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is in India to discuss fighting terrorism and stepping up military cooperation. The three-day official visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations.

Mr. Peres said Israel is ready to help and support India in its fight against terrorism, and stressed the need for closer ties between the two countries to fight the common threat of terrorism.

Mr. Peres comes to India at a time when it is locked in a tense military standoff with Pakistan, sparked by last month's attack on its parliament.

After meeting senior Indian leaders, the Israeli foreign minister said he believes India wants to avoid a war with Pakistan, saying he does not see the Indians as being "trigger happy."

But Mr. Peres stressed the need for an uncompromising global war on terrorism. "I don't not think the war of terror can be stopped before terror will disappear - cannot be compromised, cannot be forgiven, cannot be postponed," he said.

Indo-Israeli ties have developed steadily since the two countries established diplomatic relations a decade ago. Cooperation in counter-terrorism and the defense field is at the center of their relationship which is growing despite New Delhi's traditionally close ties to the Palestinians.

Israel is now India's second-largest supplier of military equipment after Russia. New Delhi plans to buy sophisticated airborne early-warning radar systems and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft from Israel.

The two countries are also sharing counter-insurgency expertise. New Delhi says it finds it immensely useful to learn from Israel's experience in tackling terrorism.

Meanwhile, Indian officials say they see no genuine shift in Pakistan's stance towards militant groups, despite the Pakistani president's statements condemning terrorism in all its forms. A foreign ministry spokesman has again called for Pakistan to take concrete, serious and substantial steps to deal with Islamic militants.

Indian officials also say two Muslim rebels and an Indian solider were killed in an attack by Islamic guerrillas on an Indian army camp in Kashmir.