Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Against the backdrop of the highly charged atmospheres in both the Middle East and Southeast Asia, Israel and India met recently to discuss counter-terrorism measures, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced this week.
Both Israel and India blame recent terror attacks on militant Islamic groups. Both countries have said they will not engage in diplomatic exchanges with their enemies until the terrorism comes to a halt.
The meeting, held in New Delhi last week, was the second of the India-Israel Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The group met for the first time in January of this year.
"This dialogue was held in the context of India's cooperation with the international community to counter the scourge of terrorism and to address this problem in light of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373," the statement said.
Resolution 1373, adopted after September 11, is concerned with acts of international terrorism as they threaten peace and security worldwide.
An Israeli official, who preferred not to be named, characterized the encounter as "an important meeting point between diplomats."
He declined to go into details about the talks but said that the two countries discussed the "geo-strategic aspects of this counter-terrorism dialogue."
In addition to the global threat of terrorism after September 11, the official said, the two countries share another common danger.
"Israel and India are affected or may be affected by al Qaeda," the official said.
According to Dr. Martin Sherman, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzylia near Tel Aviv, the two countries have common interests on more than one level.
"Both countries realize they have a lot in common as far as interest goes on the macro and micro level," Sherman said in a telephone interview.
They both face a "common threat from a sizeable Moslem minority" amongst a non-Muslim majority," said Sherman, who is an expert on Israeli-Indian relations.
They are both democratic governments, constrained by their own laws when it comes to taking action against such a threat, Sherman said.
They both face an enemy with non-conventional weapons, and the means to deliver them and both embrace a region of the world with the greatest number of religious extremists, he added.
Pakistan has successfully tested nuclear weapons, as has India, while Israel is faced with a biological and chemical threat from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and possibly others. Experts say Iran is only a few years away from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon.
"They certainly have a lot to cooperate on," Sherman said.
According to Sherman, this relationship between Israel and India has been "approved to a growing degree by Washington...[as] a strong stabilizing force in an unstable region."
In addition to the cooperation on counter-terrorism, Israel is reportedly India's second largest supplier of weapons.
The Jerusalem Post, quoting foreign reports, said earlier this week that there were hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pending weapons sales from Israel to India.
(Annual total bilateral trade between the countries is $1 billion, Sherman said.)
The paper also said that Israeli weapons systems and technology would give India an edge over Pakistan if trouble breaks out between the two countries.
One deal that was under discussion last year was that of the sale of three Phalcon AWACS spy planes, worth $750 million. A similar deal to sell planes equipped with the advanced radar systems to China was scuttled two years ago.
Prior to the current crisis between India and Pakistan, it was assumed that the U.S. had less of a problem selling the planes to India than to China. The U.S. feared that the intelligence gathering planes could be used against U.S. troops in the Straights of Taiwan if problems developed there.