Agencies: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said India and Israel share a “deep and centuries-old” connection, left for the Jewish state this morning, first-ever visit to Israel by an Indian premier. During PM Modi’s three-day visit, which coincides with India and Israel marking 25 years of their diplomatic relations, seen by some as a turning point in India’s position on Israel. During his three-day visit, the two countries are set to hold extensive talks on defence, security, water management, science and technology, education, agriculture and more.
Here is your 10-point guide to this landmark trip:
- Ahead of his historic visit to Israel, PM Modi has, in a joint blog with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, paid tribute to the deep connection and “natural partnership” between the two countries. “We are confident that 25 years from now, Indians and Israelis will look back on this visit as the first of many historical milestones that we reached together in the great friendship between our peoples,” the PM’s write in the editorial published in The Times of India.
- Terming the PM Modi’s visit as “historic”, his Israeli counterpart on Monday said, “The visit it attests to the fact that our relations with India became closer. This visit will deepen cooperation in a range of areas – security, agriculture, water, energy, almost every field in which Israel is engaged.”
- “I will have in-depth talks with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu on the full spectrum of our partnership and strengthening it in diverse fields for mutual benefit. We will also have the chance to discuss major common challenges like terrorism,” PM Modi wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
- In a special gesture, Netanyahu will receive PM Modi when he arrives at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. Such a special gesture has been done only for US Presidents, including Donald Trump, and the Pope. In Israel, he will also meet President Reuven Ruvi Rivlin and address the CEOs of the two countries as well as the Indian diaspora.
- Under his signature “Make in India” scheme, PM Modi is expected to advance sales and production of missiles, drones and radar systems, said officials in New Delhi and Tel Aviv.
- The two sides are expected to announce strategic partnerships in areas including water, agriculture and space technology. However, it is the defence relationship that is most advanced – India is now Israel’s biggest arms market, buying weapons at an average of $1 billion each year.
- The centrepiece of the collaboration is the Barak-8 air defence system, built jointly by the two countries in a boost for PM Modi’s campaign to develop a domestic defence industry and reduce arms imports.
- On Monday, Israel said it completely supports India in its fight against terror emanating from Pakistan and within the country. “Israel has never hidden the fact that it supports India hook, line and sinker on the subject of terrorism… You have suffered from terrorism from inside India, and not just emanating from Pakistan, which has been seen in recent history,” the Deputy Director General of Israel’s foreign ministry, Mark Sofer, told reporters in Jerusalem.
- India has traditionally been cautious in its dealing with Israel, partly because of an alleged wariness of upsetting Arab states and Iran, upon whom it relies for its vast imports of oil, as also its own large Muslim population. PM Modi will not travel to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority and a customary stop for visiting leaders trying to maintain a balance in political ties.
- On July 6, the prime minister will travel to Hamburg for the G-20 Summit being hosted by Germany on July 7-8. The theme chosen for this year is ‘Shaping an Inter-connected World’.