Saturday, August 18, 2007


Israel, Washington sign new defense agreement

Readers Number : 79

16/08/2007 Israel and the United States signed Thursday the Memorandum of Understanding on the new American defense package for Israel. Under the new aid agreement, the U.S. will transfer $30 billion to Israel over 10 years, compared with $24 billion over the past decade. Israel is slated to receive the first pay out in October 2008, amounting to $2.550 billion. That sum will grow each year by $150 million, until it reaches $3.1 billion in 2011. In addition, the agreement permits Israel to convert into shekels 26.3 percent of the aid money, thereby enabling it to procure defense equipment from Israeli companies. The rest of the aid must be used to purchase equipment from American military industries. Israeli negotiators tried to step up the percentage of aid that could be used for procurement from local companies, without success. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Wednesday with visiting U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, R. Nicholas Burns, in preparation for Thursday's signing. Olmert asked Burns to thank U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their efforts in transforming the understandings with Olmert, reached during his last visit to Washington, into a binding agreement.
"The aid agreement with the U.S. is an important and significant component for Israel, and proves once again the depth of the relationship between the two countries and the United States' commitment to Israel's security, and to preserving its qualitative advantage over other countries in the Middle East," Olmert said.
Burns met Thursday morning with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who headed the Israeli team in negotiations with the U.S. At noon, Burns signed the aid agreement with Foreign Ministry Director General Aharon Abramovich, and meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Burns also met Wednesday with Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who oversees the strategic dialogue with the U.S. Mofaz and Burns agreed to hold a strategic dialogue in mid-October on Iran and Lebanon.

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Russia delivers air defense system to Syria

Readers Number : 320

17/08/2007 Russia has begun delivery of modern air defense units to Syria.
"The first part of the delivery to Syria has started," the centrist daily Nezavissimaya Gazeta reported, quoting information from a domestic military information agency. A spokesman for Russia's arms export agency Rosoboronexport declined to comment on the newspaper report. The report acknowledged that the delivery of the weapons, the Pantsyr-S1E self-propelled short-range missile air defense system, was particularly sensitive in light of Israeli claims last year that
Russian arms sold to Syria had ended up in the hands of Hezbollah. Nezavissimaya Gazeta quoted an official involved in Russian arms export policy as describing concerns that Russian air defense weapons could be re-exported to Iran as "silly rumors". Officially, the contract was for the sale of 50 Pantsyr units for about 900 million dollars. Media reports have put the number of units sold to Syria at around 36. In May, the London-based arms specialist magazine Jane's Defense Weekly reported that Syria had agreed to send Iran at least 10 of the Pantsyr units. That report was categorically denied by a range of top Russian officials including First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

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