Modi begins first ever Israel visit by an Indian PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in 2014

Modi's three-day visit to Israel is the first by an Indian prime minister to the Jewish nation. The Middle East and strategic issues concerning Asia would figure in the bilateral talks.

"Alongside building a partnership for shared economic prosperity, we are also cooperating to secure our societies against common threats such as terrorism", he said.

To forge everlasting relations with India, Netanyahu assured that Isreal will not only provide the best technology from its premier state-owned company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to India but would be unveiling its secret armour which has never been shown to best of the European partners.

The personal chemistry and the warmth between Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was apparent in their remarks and their hugs.

India is already Israel's biggest arms market, worth $1bn (£770,000) a year, as the country races to keep up militarily with China and Pakistan.

Asked whether India would take a more pro-Israel posture in the UN, Modi said India's positions at the UN are based on the merit of specific issues and driven by the country's core values and principles.

Prime Minister Modi will today begin his two nation tour starting from Israel. When I and Prime Minister Modi met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2014, we made a decision to break down the final walls that separate us.

"In the last few years the world has seen the India Israel relationship come out from the perception of just Defense related activities to showcasing a fantastic connection in agricultural, educational, entrepreneurial & cultural cooperation".

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Q: What is the importance of this visit for Israel?

■ 1977: Foreign minister Moshe Dayan visits India, and meets the then prime minister Morarji Desai.

Citing the fact that PM Modi chose not to visit Palestine on the same trip, Tharoor said that Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have done their "homework" before finalising the visit.

But it is the defence relationship that is most advanced between the two countries. We are working together in space technology.

Modi is expected to address 4,000 to 5,000 of these people when he holds a large-scale event for their benefit Wednesday evening at the Tel Aviv fairgrounds.

As Indian ambassador Pradeep Kapoor told a newspaper, "The visit is a milestone by itself, this is a coming out of the relationship between the two countries". "Ties between Israel and India are on a constant upswing", added Netanyahu.

In April, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said India would buy almost $2 billion worth of weapons technology, making it the military exporting giant's largest ever defence contract. He said his visit was about the strength of the two societies and their strong partnership. 800 million people in India fall below 35 years of age.

Modi will not be travelling to Ramallah, the Palestinian capital, unlike President Pranab Mukherjee, and other high level diplomatic visits in the past - a clear message that India has officially dehyphenated its relations with Israel and Palestine.



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