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      Ashkenazi Makes Historic State Visit to India

      IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is traveling to India for the first state visit ever to be conducted to that nation by an Israeli military head.
      By Hana Levi Julian
      First Publish: 12/6/2009, 3:34 PM / Last Update: 12/6/2009, 5:09 PM

      IDF Spokesperson's Unit

      IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is traveling to India for the first official visit to be conducted by an Israeli military head in the history of the two nations.

      Ashkenazi will meet with his Indian counterpart, General Deepak Kapoor, who came to the Jewish State for a similar state visit last month at the invitation of the Chief of Staff.

      During his absence, Major-General Benny Gantz will fill in for the chief of staff. Ashkenazi's wife joined senior IDF officers in coming along for the trip. The entire delegation is expected to return to Israel by Thursday.

      The visit is intended to strengthen military ties between the two countries, according to an IDF statement which added that Ashkenazi will also visit other countries in the region, although it did not specify which ones.

      The lieutenant-general will also meet with the Indian national security adviser and the heads of the Indian Navy and Air Force.

      Israel is currently the second-largest supplier of weapons to India, after Russia. Earlier this year, Israel delivered the advanced airborne early warning command and control system (AWACS) to New Delhi, a system that when integrated with the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Phalcon system, placed India at the top of the list in air defense in Southeast Asia.