Israeli PM on 6-day visit to India to deepen ties
NEW DELHI – The Associated Press
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived on Jan. 14 for his first visit to India to expand defense, trade and energy ties during his six-day stay.
On Jan. 15, he’ll meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and call on President Ram Nath Kovind as well as attend an India-Israel CEO Forum Meeting.
India’s External Affairs Ministry said the two countries are expected to sign agreements on cybersecurity, energy and space cooperation and film production. They’re also expected to review progress in implementing agreements on cooperation in technology, water and agriculture that were signed during Modi’s visit to Israel in July last year.
Bilateral trade has skyrocketed from $200 million in 1992, when India and Israel established diplomatic ties, to $4.16 billion in 2016. But that remains far below Israel’s nearly $40 billion in annual trade with its largest partners, the United States and the European Union.
Some irritants in growing ties include the cancelation by India in March of a $500 million anti-tank missile deal with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. It wasn’t clear why India scrapped the deal before the contract was signed.
Also, India last month voted in favor of a U.N. resolution denouncing President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Daniel Carmon, the Israeli ambassador to India, said that the Israeli-India ties would withstand any troubles.
“The relationship is an all-weather relationship,” he told reporters Jan. 12, adding it was “so strong and so important to both countries that our feeling is that nothing can reverse it.’”
He played down India’s U.N. vote, saying, “I think that the relationship is much stronger than one vote at the U.N. here and there.”
He said Netanyahu was bringing with him 130 businesspeople, “which reflects the enthusiasm in Israel to do more business with India.”