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Israel, US Resolve Row Over China Arms Deal

Washington imposed a series of sanctions on Israel's defence industry over the deal to upgrade Harpy Killer drones (pictured), amid concerns that advanced US defence technology contained in Israeli equipment could be used against Taiwan.

Jerusalem (AFP) Aug 16, 2005
Israel's defence ministry and the Pentagon announced in a joint statement Tuesday that they had resolved a crisis sparked by an arms contract between Israel and China.

"The US and Israeli departments of defence have concluded an agreement designed to resolve the problems that have seriously damaged their relations," the statement said.

"Further measures will be taken in the coming months to reestablish confidence," the statement added without giving details.

Israel's ties with its usually staunch US ally took a major hit from the row over a controversial weapons deal under which Israel was to upgrade a consignment of drones it had sold to China.

Washington imposed a series of sanctions on Israel's defence industry over the deal to upgrade Harpy Killer drones, amid concerns that advanced US defence technology contained in Israeli equipment could be used against Taiwan.

The Israeli government had been particularly keen to resolve the dispute with Washington at a time when it was seeking US support for its historic pullout from the Gaza Strip, now underway.

However expressions of regret by Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom failed to defuse the spat and negotiations between the two sides to agree on a memorandum of understanding, which would see Israel clear future arms deals with the United StatesS, appeared to have stalled.

An Israeli report last month said that Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz had decided to scrap plans to hold talks at the Pentagon after officials in Washington demanded that he sign an official apology.

The Haaretz newspaper also said that the government had baulked at further demands for legislation tightening the monitoring of military exports to be signed within the next 18 months.

The row has also damaged the Israeli government's relations with Beijing.

Israel had to pay Beijing 350 million dollars in compensation after breaking an agreement in 2000 to supply Falcon airplanes with an AWACS radar system.

"We are also sorry about Israel's decision and of course it cannot be said that this incident is a positive one in establishing the relationship between the two countries," Chinese Information Minister Zhao Qizheng said in an interview earlier this month.

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