The "Financial Times" reports, "Israel's military relations with Georgia came under the spotlight yesterday as authorities insisted they had repeatedly turned down requests from Tbilisi to supply advanced offensive weapons."
The paper quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying, "Those who have been supplying arms to Georgia should feel part of the blame for the loss of life of civilians, including many Russian citizens."
The "Financial Times" cites Israeli media reports that Israel's defense industry sold goods worth several hundred million dollars to Tbilisi in recent years, including drones, night-vision equipment and mortar shells. A number of retired Israeli army officers also provided training to Georgian troops.
The "Financial Times" also cites a report by Hebrew daily "Yedioth Ahronot", which stressed the personal ties between the two countries, noting that Georgia Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili went to school in Israel.
The "Financial Times" also quotes Ministry of Defense spokesman Shlomo Dror, as saying that Israeli weapons exports and training assistance were largely limited to defensive equipment and anti-terrorism training. He declined to give precise figures for weapons exports to Georgia, but stressed Israel was not among the top three suppliers.
The paper also noted that Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni held several meetings yesterday to discuss the crisis in the Caucasus, although officials said they dealt mainly with the fate of Israeli tourists stranded in Georgia and Georgian Jews.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 11, 2008
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