In a rebuff prompted by domestic political concerns,India turned down an Israeli request for an official visit by its high-profile Defence Minister Ehud Barak during the Defexpo last month.
Tel Aviv felt that the event provided the right forum for a political visit to showcase the growing defence partnership. But sources said the Defence Ministry the organiser of Defexpo took the line that inviting Israeli political leaders to the event could raise a controversy.
Israel is among the top three defence suppliers to India and was the biggest participating country in terms of floor space at Defexpo. It had close to 20 companies at the show given that it is DRDOs largest technology partner. Given this scale of participation,Israel felt,a visit by its Defence Minister would have been an appropriate gesture.
But Defence Minister A K Antony was quite clear about keeping this a low-profile relationship. Its believed that the MoD did not consult the MEA before regretting the request.
UPA II Ministers S M Krishna,Kapil Sibal and Kamal Nath have visited Israel. The last major Israeli visit was by President Ariel Sharon in 2003 and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres next year.