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Israel Agrees to Sell Arms to Conflict-ridden Sri Lanka

Israel has agreed to sell arms to the Sri Lankan government, which is currently embroiled in a conflict with Tamil rebels, according to official sources in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.

Sri Lanka turned to Israel, Russia, Indonesia and Ukraine for emergency aid and arms in its war against the Tamil Black Tigers, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported this week.

Clashes broke out between the two sides last month.

Sri Lanka reportedly appealed to Israel a month ago and asked to renew ties, which were cut off five years ago.

Sources in the Israeli Foreign Ministry said relations with Sri Lanka have been under examination, but that Israel is not in any rush to renew them.

Sri Lanka first cut off ties with Israel in 1970, in an act of identification with Arab states and the Palestinians.

In 1984, an Israeli interest office, which operated out of the American Embassy, was opened in the capital. Former President Chaim Herzog visited Colombo in 1986.

In 1990, Sri Lanka cut off relations again and the office was closed. The government said it would renew ties only after Israel recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization and withdrew from all occupied territories.

Unofficial ties, primarily economic ones, continued even during periods when the countries had no diplomatic relations, the report said.

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