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Reports: Israel Halts Arms Sale to Georgia

Israel has decided to halt all sales of military equipment to Georgia because of Russian objections, Israeli daily Maariv reported on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

The daily quoted unnamed Israeli defense officials as saying that Russia had sent Israel a letter of protest after the April 20 incident when a Georgian Israeli-produced unmanned reconnaissance drone was shot down over Abkhazia. Russia asked Israel to stop supplying military hardware to Georgia, just as Israel sometimes asks Russia not to supply weapons systems to states seen as threatening Israel, according to Maariv.
Georgia has bought Hermes 450 drones from the Israeli company Elbit Systems. President Saakashvili claimed in April that Georgia had 40 such drones.

Temur Iakobashvili, the Georgian state minister for reintegration, denied that Israel had frozen arms sale to Georgia.

“I’ve heard of those reports; there was a gossipy article published in the Israeli press,” Iakobashvili said at a news conference in Tbilisi on August 5.

He also suggested that the “gossip” was linked to internal political processes in Israel. “You know that a war of compromising materials is not a strange thing in that country,” Iakobashvili added.

“We have been in touch with the Israeli Foreign Ministry; there has not been any freeze on arms sale by Israel,” he continued. “I have not been having any problems with the supply of arms from Israel.”

A similar report on an arms freeze by Israel on Georgia emerged in February 2005. It too was also denied by officials in Tbilisi.


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