TEL AVIV (Dec. 30)
Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zipori is hopeful that the present visit to Israel of Colombian Defense Minister Gen. Luis Carlos Camacho Leyva and that of the Mexican Defense Minister Felix Gatuan next month will strengthen commercial relations between Israel and Latin America.
Both ministers will be inspecting the production line for manufacture of the Israeli-designed and produced Kfir fighter aircraft, exports of which have now been halted by problems involving the use of the U.S. made engines.
Several countries have expressed interest in the high-performance Israeli plane, but sales have not been effected because of the American attitude which some officials here say is due to fears of competition by American aircraft manufacturers.
Zipori said after a tour with Leyva that there are good chances for better relations with Latin America, including the sole of the Kfir. We have sophisticated electronics and other industries here for both defense and civilian purposes. We have a great potential and there are good chances for improved economic and other relations. The Latin American countries are strong enough to withstand Arab pressure.”
Production of the Kfir fighter is continuing despite uncertainties about the future of defense establishment industries following cuts in the defense budget. The Colombian Defense Minister met with Premier Menachem Becin last Sunday. He is continuing his tour of Israel, which includes visits to army units and military industries.