President Reuven Rivlin (L) and Indian PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi in November. (Mark Neyman/GPO) (Mark Neyman/GPO)
Rivlin India

Narendra Modi will make history in July when he becomes the first Indian prime minister to visit the Jewish state. 

The dates of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Israel—the first trip of its kind by an Indian prime minister—are set for July 5-6, as the two countries mark 25 years of diplomatic relations.

While the details of Modi’s itinerary are still being worked out, reports indicate his visit will focus on building stronger economic, agricultural, and hi-tech ties.

According to the Hindustan Times, “Though Israel is among the top four military hardware suppliers to India, with more than $1 billion in annual sales to New Delhi, the Modi government is keen to ensure that this visit is not focused on defense ties alone, but encompasses long term economic and technological cooperation, resulting in a free-trade agreement.”

The report added Modi’s visit will “be an open acknowledgment of India’s close ties with Israel, and also pave the way for the transfer of high-end agricultural technologies that will benefit Indian farmers.”

Ahead of Modi’s trip, Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will visit Israel in May.

Notably, Modi will not visit the Palestinian Authority in July. Instead, PA head Mahmoud Abbas will visit India this spring. The Indian government said it believes the prime minister’s stand alone visit to Israel will further “underline the significance of India’s special ties with the Jewish nation.”

Growing Closer

Israel and India 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.

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

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 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.

The Israeli government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are promoting joint business ventures, agricultural programs, tourism and other joint projects. The Foreign Ministry will also be spearheading a special program to bring young Indian leaders from multiple fields of interest to Israel to learn what Israel has to offer and to realize the potential for cooperation and collaboration.

Israel’s latest venture in India was the launch of a unique campaign to boost tourism to Israel.

By: JNS.org and United with Israel Staff

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