Israel and India boost ties ahead of historic Modi visit

Israel approved a set of measures to further cement developing relations with India.

Israel and India are strengthening ties and will establish a joint innovation, research, and development fund ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Jewish state next week, the first by a sitting Indian prime minister.

In a sign of the warming relationship between the two countries, Israel’s cabinet on Sunday approved several decisions that will strengthen these ties, including expanding exports, deepening cooperation in agriculture and water, the establishing of a joint innovation, research and development fund, and an increase of tourism from India to Israel.

Speaking at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his “friend” Modi’s visit to Israel is historic.

“In the 70 years of the country’s existence no Indian Prime Minister has ever visited and this is further expression of the State of Israel’s military, economic and diplomatic strength,” Netanyahu stated.

“This is a very significant step in strengthening relations between the two countries. India is a huge country with over 1.25 billion people and is one of the world’s largest, growing economies. Ties between Israel and India are on a constant upswing,” he added.

Of the newly approved decisions, Netanyahu said they are “an additional expression of Israel’s enhanced international position in recent years, as we strengthen the State of Israel.”

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Modi is expected to visit Israel on his return from the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

When the visit was announced in March, the Indian government said it believes the stand-alone visit to Israel will further “underline the significance of India’s special ties with the Jewish nation.”

The visit will mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two allies.

Relations between the two countries have warmed up considerably in recent years, especially since Modi took office.

Netanyahu and Modi met for the first time at the UN in September 2014, 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 afterwards.

The relationship was given a further boost during the visit of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Israel in 2015 and the reciprocal visit of President Reuven Rivlin to India this past December.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News