Israel and India are stepping up relations as India’s president will make the first-ever, historic state visit to Israel next week.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, will arrive in Israel next Tuesday for a three-day state visit to Israel, at the invitation of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
“The visit marks an historic political milestone as the first such visit by an Indian president to the State of Israel, and this reflects the continued strengthening of relations between the two countries,” the president’s spokesman said in a statement.
Mukherjee will receive an official reception at the Israeli President’s residence, after which the two heads of state will hold a working meeting. Later on, President Rivlin will host a state dinner in honor of Mukherjee’s visit.
Speaking of the visit, Rivlin said, “the upcoming visit of the President of India, more than being an important milestone in the relationship between the two countries, will serve to deepen the friendship between our states, in the fields of economy, science, medicine, and agriculture. I am looking forward to the meeting, which will represent one of the highlights of the relationship between the Israeli and Indian peoples.”
Mukherjee’s itinerary also include a luncheon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and meetings with Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein and Chairman of the Opposition Isaac Herzog. Similarly, President Mukherjee is due to deliver an address at a special plenary meeting of the Israeli Knesset.
The visit will conclude with a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, where President Mukherjee will receive an honorary doctorate – marking the ongoing academic cooperation between the two countries.
“Israel views with high importance the developing relations with India, and is delighted by the occasion of the first visit of an Indian president to Israel,” the statement said.
Warming in Israel-India Relations
Israel and India’s relations have warmed up considerably, and especially since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office. He is slated to visit Israel in October.
A delegation from India’s foreign ministry, led by Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa, visited Israel in July for “strategic dialogue” with the Israelis on various issues.
In February, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India, where the two countries finalized a major defense deal worth more than $1.5 billion.
Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Modi met at the UN last September, the first such meeting in over a decade.
“We’re very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky is the limit,” Netanyahu stated after their meeting.
Israel and India, which have held full official diplomatic relations for the past 23 years, enjoy the sharing of technological development, and India is one of Israel’s biggest clients in the defense technologies market. In 2013, India was Israel’s 10th-largest trading partner and its third-largest in Asia, after China and Hong Kong.