PM Narendra Modi to Discuss Defence, Terrorism With 'Friend' Netanyahu

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)

This is the first time an Indian Prime Minister was visiting the country

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu as a ‘friend’ who shares a commitment for vibrant India-Israel ties ahead of his three-day visit of the country. Modi said he was committed to boosting economic ties and furthering people-to-people interactions during his visit.

Israel’s ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon, said that terrorism was one of the key topics that would be discussed during the meetings. This is the first time an Indian Prime Minister was visiting the country.

On Monday, Yuval Rotem, Director General of Foreign Affairs, Israel said that the country was looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In an unprecedented move, Rotem said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will accompany PM Modi during his visit. "This is not a practice we extended to other dignitaries," he said, adding the visit will also see "a lot of digital diplomacy" between the two countries.

Israeli Prime Minister was the first foreign dignitary to congratulate PM Modi when he arrived at the helm of affairs in India in 2014.

PM Modi, in an interview to an Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, said that the two countries were ready to "take the relationship to a new level", calling Israel a "technological powerhouse." "Israel has braved many odds, and has many accomplishments to his credit," he said, adding that bilateral ties between India and Israel had always been strong.

Modi's three-day visit is aimed at commemorating 25 years of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and will also see discussions between him and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu to explore ways to enhance cooperation in key strategic areas. The two sides are expected to sign number of agreements in the field of innovation, development, science and technology and space.

The defence ties between India and Israel have often drawn worldwide attention and acquired strategic dimensions. It is believed that Modi's visit would further solidify security ties as Israeli defence industries have shown greater inclination towards participating in joint ventures to give a boost to the National Democratic Alliance government's 'Make in India' campaign.

The Indian prime minister would also be meeting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and the leader of opposition Isaac Herzog on July 5. Modi will not be travelling to neighbouring Palestine during the visit, a clear signal of de-hyphenation of its ties with the two West Asian nations.

President Pranab Mukherjee in 2015 and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in 2016 visited both the countries. Modi's visit will be the first by an Indian premier to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Ezer Weizman visited India in 2003 and 1997 respectively. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had also paid a visit to India in November last year.

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