When India's Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani was in Washington in June, his brief visit included a dinner hosted by the American Jewish Committee.
That Advani made time for the influential pro-Isreal lobbying group while on a trip to meet US President George W. Bush and his key aides, underscores the intensified relationship among the three countries.
Jason Isaacson, the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) director of government and international affairs, said the relationship between India and Israel was a natural alliance. He said it was about trade and common interests between democracies and one that complemented what he termed the growing relationship between Indian-Americans and Jewish Americans.
Links between India and the US, and India and Israel, have strengthened significantly in recent years. Isaacson has visited India seven times since 1995 -- the AJC plans to set up a liaison office in India this year -- and two lobby groups, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the US India Political American Organization, held a joint reception for Congress last month, in another step towards cementing ties.
India and Israel now have full diplomatic relations and, according to India's National Security Adviser, Shri Brajesh Mishra, speaking at an AJC annual meeting in May, New Delhi hopes Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will soon make a visit.
Two-way trade between Israel and India runs at more than US$1 billion a year with Israel particularly keen to cultivate India as a market for its defense industry. As a pointer to the future, the US, which must approve Israeli weapons sales that include American technology, recently allowed the transfer to India of the Israelis' Phalcon Airborne Early Warning, Command and Control System, in an estimated one billion dollar deal.
According to one US foreign policy commentator, Washington is transforming its growing partnership with New Delhi into an alliance comparable with the one it has with Japan.
Daniel Sneider, foreign affairs specialist for the Mercury News in California, said it was about time too. "The divide between our two countries -- the world's largest democracies -- has never made sense."
Sneider suggests the fear that India and Pakistan might use their nuclear arms against each other remains a major concern.
"The Bush administration has embraced this shift and opened previously closed doors to cooperation with India, including military ties," he said.
India has also leased two radar tracking systems from the US for use in Kashmir and, last month, Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes said 12 more will be delivered from September next year, in a US$190 million deal.
The Sept. 11 attacks gave added urgency to India's already long-running conflict with Islamic radicals -- Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution suspects intelligence co-operation also binds India and Israel -- and reports indicate the new radar systems, which are used to locate artillery and rocket batteries, will be deployed along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Washington's opening of what Sneider characterized as those previously closed doors to co-operation has also been emphasized by outgoing US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, who highlighted the broader shared strategic goals of the US and of India. Goals, which are, according to Sneider, global economics rather than geopolitics. India, as Blackwill pointed out in a farewell speech, is now the second largest source of legal migration to the US, after Mexico, and the largest source of foreign students.
Blackwill said the movement of people reflects the flow of capital and trade in both directions. "As we see here in Silicon Valley, India and the US are increasingly vital partners in one global economic space. There will be tensions as the two countries learn to work closely together. But the foundation for alliance has been created, and now we have to build upon it," he said.
Commentators would add that the warmth in relations between Israel, India and the US might be as much to do with geopolitics as it is to do with global economics.
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