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India, Israel schedule bilateral talks

October 25, 2004

NEW DELHI, Oct 24: India and Israel have proposed to hold bilateral talks on counter-terrorism next month, significantly playing down a controversial idea floated by New Delhi that sought a strategic triad involving the United States as their third partner , official sources said on Sunday.

Indian news reports from Israel said apart from foreign ministry consultations the two countries would hold a joint working group (JWG) meeting on counter-terrorism.

The Press Trust of India stressed that the consultations, slated for Nov 17, would be "centred around bilateral issues", and the JWG meeting is likely to be held towards the end of November.

It said Israel was also likely to reopen its consulate in Mumbai soon. The office was closed down last year apparently due to financial constraints.

The talks will be held amid speculation that India's ties with Israel had suffered adversely under the new Congress Party-led dispensation in New Delhi backed by the Left Front.

The Congress government in its policy statement had underlined strengthening of its traditional ties with Palestinians.

India also condemned Israel's incursions in Rafah in May and in the northern Gaza Strip this month.

Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed in his visit to Ramallah last month had described Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat as the symbol of Palestinian struggle along with condemning Israeli restrictions on his movement.