‘I For I, India For Israel’

The bonhomie between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top Israeli political leadership continued in Jerusalem for a second day, as the visiting premier held separate meetings with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to discuss various important bilateral and regional issues.
On Wednesday morning, PM Modi called on President Rivlin at the latter’s Jerusalem residence. They not only exchanged views on various ways to strengthen bilateral ties, but also discussed how Israel’s cutting-edge technology could help the “Make in India” initiative.

(Modi with Rivlin)

PM Modi described the Jewish state as India’s real friend, saying that President Rivlin’s visit to the South Asian country in November 2016 helped bolster bilateral ties. The Indian premier also said: “Today, it is ‘I to I and I for I’. When ‘I say I for I, I don’t mean the popular saying. But, what I mean is India with Israel, India for Israel.”
Before leaving Rivlin’s residence, Modi told the press that he received a warm welcome from the Israeli president as a mark of his respect for the people of India. The PM said that Indian people admire President Rivlin for his unstinting belief and common good of mankind. For his part, Rivlin stressed that he considers Modi as one of the greatest world leaders, who is working really hard to expand the scope for bilateral co-operation.
Later, Prime Minister Modi held a high level four-hour-long meeting with his Israeli counterpart Netanyahu. They mainly discussed “shared priorities” and a partnership that could “help global peace and stability”. According to sources close to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the two premiers decided to strengthen anti-terror co-operation in order to ensure global peace. They also expressed serious concern over the current political and security scenario in West Asia and also in South Asia.

(Modi with Netanyahu)

The two PMs issued a joint statement, saying that their talks covered bilateral opportunities in space research, extending co-operation in fighting terrorism and ensuring the global peace and stability. PM Netanyahu hailed the India-Israel relationship as a “marriage made in heaven and being implemented on the earth”, insisting: “This is a deeply moving moment for me. We are making history.” As far as terrorism is concerned, the Israeli premier said: “We are being challenged by the forces of terror that is undermining our peace and stability. We agreed to co-operate in this area as well.”
Meanwhile, PM Modi thanked his Israeli counterpart for considering India as a “friend” and an “economic partner”. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and I have had productive discussions covering an extensive menu of issues. Our goal is to build a relationship that reflects our shared priorities and draws on enduring bonds between our peoples. We regard thriving two-way trade and investment flows as the bed-rock of a strong partnership,” he told the press.

In the presence of Modi and Netanyahu, top officials of the two countries signed seven deals, including pacts on agriculture and water management, and co-operation in space. It was also agreed that India and Israel would set up a USD 40 million fund for industrial Research and Development, with both countries contributing USD 20 million each.

(Modi at Jerusalem Museum)

The Indian premier, who visited the Israel Museum in Jerusalem along with PM Netanyahu on Wednesday, is scheduled to visit the Haifa cemetery on Thursday to pay homage to fallen Indian soldiers in WWI. Later, he will leave Israel for Germany to attend the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

(Haifa cemetery)

Meanwhile, neighbouring Pakistan has said that it is closely following the Indian PM’s trip since it can have serious implications for strategic stability in South Asia. PM Modi’s visit to Israel is being viewed with suspicion by the Pak media, with some commentators saying that the exercise is aimed at countering Pakistan’s military strength.

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