President Rivlin embarks on state visit to India

Israel’s relationship with India is growing and strengthening, with leaders from both countries visiting the other, and business, academic and economic ties are growing deeper.

President Reuven Rivlin and his wife and First Lady, Nechama, departed on Sunday for a state visit to India, at the invitation of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

Rivlin will join Mukherjee in opening an agro-tech conference in the city of Chandigarh, hold meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, will visit several sites of cooperation and joint projects between the two countries and will meet with senior Indian officials and leaders of the Jewish community.

He will also pay his respects at the sites of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and lay wreaths on the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi and at the memorial for Indian soldiers who fell in the First World War in combat in the land of Israel and the Middle East.

“I am departing now on an important visit to India, an important ally and close friend of Israel, a state with whom we have much in common,” Rivlin stated before departing, “Israel and India are both countries of innovation and of inspiration. Countries that have ancient traditions, but have built strong and thriving hi-tech economies, and now celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations.”

Rivlin is accompanied by a delegation of business and academic leaders, including 13 presidents and senior representatives of Israeli academic institutions who are expected to sign 15 separate agreements between Israeli and Indian educational institutions.

“This visit is a sign of the strong relations and friendship between our peoples, and I hope will plant the seeds for that friendship to grow closer and closer,” said Rivlin.

“The issue of international cooperation in higher education and the expansion of academic ties between Israel and the world – in particular with India – is one of the central aims of the multi-year plan for higher education in Israel,” Yaffa Zilbershats, head the Council for Higher Education’s budget committee and a member of the delegation to India, said.

“India represents a great challenge for Israeli manufacturers and this delegation will afford the opportunity to strengthen cooperation and partnership with their Indian counterparts,” said Shraga Brosh, President of Manufacturers Association of Israel and the head of the business delegation. “I have no doubt that this will be a fruitful visit and forge long-lasting economic partnerships which will strengthen and help grow the bilateral trade between the countries.”

Israel and India’s relations have warmed up considerably in recent years, and especially since Modi took office.

Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Modi met 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 after their meeting.

Israel and India, which have had full official diplomatic relations for the past 25 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.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News