"India A Global Power", Says Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu; Begins Historic Visit
Mr Netanyahu's visit to India is only the second one by an Israeli prime minister and comes after a gap of 15 years. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had visited India in 2003.
"I will meet with the Prime Minister (of India), my friend Narendra Modi, with the Indian President and with many other leaders. We will sign very many agreements," Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement.
"We are strengthening ties between Israel and this important global power. This serves our security, economic, trade and tourism interests, as well as many other areas. This is a great blessing for the state of Israel," he said.
"Indian Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi is a close friend of Israel and of mine and I appreciate the fact that he will accompany me on extensive parts of my visit," Prime Minister Netanyahu said just before leaving for New Delhi.
"On this visit I intend to strengthen bilateral relations even more. This visit is an opportunity to enhance cooperation with a global economic, security, technology and tourism power," he added.
The visit marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and takes place about six months after PM Modi's trip to Israel, the first by an Indian prime minister to the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will be visiting Delhi, Agra, Gujarat and Mumbai and will be accompanied by PM Modi on extensive portions of his visit, a press statement said. He will hold meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, apart from Prime Minister Modi.
Several agreements and MoUs, including in the field of oil and gas, renewable energy, amended protocol for airports, cyber security, and co-production of films and documentaries, will be signed between the two sides.
Israel's Saare Tzedek hospital would be signing an agreement with the ministry of health and family welfare.
Informed sources in Jerusalem said that this relates to sharing of knowledge in the field of homoeopathy and Ayurveda that have been gaining popularity in Israel over the last few years.
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology would also be signing an agreement with the ministry of science and technology, sources in Jerusalem said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is leading a high-profile delegation comprising 130 businessmen from 102 Israeli companies drawn from areas like agriculture, water, cyber security, health care and security, on his trip.
Israel will be investing $68.6 million to boost cooperation with India in areas like tourism, technology, agriculture and innovation over a period of four years, a senior official in Jerusalem said ahead of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit.
The commitment is in addition to the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund of $40 million over five years with equal contribution from both sides that has already been agreed between the two nations, Deputy Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Gilad Cohen, earlier told news agency PTI.
Moshe Holtzberg, the toddler who survived the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack but lost his parents, will also join the trip with his grandparents and his brave Indian nanny, Sandra Samuels, who saved him.
Prime Minister Netanyahu had promised to take him along on his visit during an emotional meeting between the now 11-year-old boy and PM Modi in Jerusalem in July.
PM Modi will be hosting a private dinner for Prime Minister Netanyahu in New Delhi tonight. The Israeli prime minister also met Swaraj today.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will be formally welcomed tomorrow morning at the Rashtrapati Bhawan following which he would lay a wreath at Rajghat. He would then participate in a dialogue at Hyderabad House which will also include a one-on-one discussion with Prime Minister Modi. A meeting with President Kovind is also scheduled for tomorrow.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, would be travelling to Agra to see the Taj Mahal on Tuesday and return to Delhi to participate in the Raisina Dialogue.
PM Modi would be accompanying Prime Minister Netanyahu to Gujarat on Wednesday where he will be welcomed in the same fashion as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was with a road show in Ahmedabad.
The road show is said to be an 8-kilometre drive from the airport to the Sabarmati Ashram. The two leaders will also be witnessing several innovative technologies in the field of water, agriculture and health at iCreate and visit a Centre of Excellence.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will travel to Mumbai on Wednesday in the evening where he will meet the Indian Jewish community.
A packed schedule on Thursday for the Israeli premier in Mumbai will include a "power breakfast" with Indian business leaders, a business seminar, attending two memorial services for the victims of the 26/11 attack at the Taj Mahal Hotel and Nariman House and finally a gala event with Bollywood actors.
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