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HomeDiplomacyIndia a 'huge friend' of Israelis, Naftali Bennett tells Jaishankar during first...

India a ‘huge friend’ of Israelis, Naftali Bennett tells Jaishankar during first meet

Jaishankar, who is on a visit to Israel, conveyed PM Modi's greetings to the Israeli leader and invited him to make his first official visit to India since taking the office in June.

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Jerusalem: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday had a “warm and rich” discussion with the top Israeli leadership on realising the full potential of the bilateral strategic partnership and exchanged views on the changes in the geopolitical landscape and global affairs.

Jaishankar called on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and they discussed strengthening the strategic alliance, expanding bilateral ties and deepening the warm friendship between Israel and India,” the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser said.

Prime Minister Bennett thanked his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the minister for their personal commitment to the partnership between Israel and India, the adviser said.

“I speak on behalf of Israelis: We love India. We view India as a huge friend and we’re looking forward to expanding our relationship in all fields and all dimensions. I look forward to a very productive meeting, Prime Minister Bennett told Jaishankar at the start of the meeting.

Jaishankar conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Modi to the Israeli leader and invited him to make his first official visit to India.

“We are today at a very important stage of our relationship because things have gone very well for us. But it has opened up a whole lot of possibilities. So, I think the challenges (are) how to work to take our relationship to the next highest level. The sentiment and the interest in India in our ties with Israel is very very strong, he said.

“A warm and rich discussion on realising the full potential of our strategic partnership. PM Bennett’s purposeful and focused approach to it was deeply encouraging,” Jaishankar said in a tweet after the meeting.

Jaishankar said that Bennett’s sharing of strategic perspectives was also very valuable.

“India and Israel will work even more closely to realise their partnership’s vision for the next 30 years,” he tweeted.

Earlier, Jaishankar called on Israeli President Isaac Herzog at Beit HaNassi, the president’s official residence here.

The two leaders discussed ways to promote and strengthen the growing bilateral relationship in various sectors besides exchanging views on global strategic affairs.

“Delighted to call on President @Isaac_Herzog. Our conversation covered changes in the geopolitical landscape,” Jaishankar tweeted.

“Deeply appreciate his visible commitment to taking our bilateral ties to the next level,” he said.

President Herzog thanked Jaishankar for his personal commitment, and that of Prime Minister Modi and his ministers, to promoting and strengthening ties with Israel, according to a press release issued by the President’s office.

During the diplomatic working meeting, Herzog also praised the flourishing of the Israel-India relationship in a range of fields.

“Two ancient nations, two proud democracies. Energising discussion today with @DrSJaishankar, FM of our close friend and partner India. Great promise for Israeli-Indian collaboration on tech, trade, energy and more. There is so much we can do with our combined creativity,” President Herzog said in a tweet.

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and India next year, President Herzog emphasised his intention to personally assist in promoting and strengthening this important relationship, the statement said.

President Herzog and Jaishankar further discussed global strategic affairs, it said.

Jaishankar said that it was “a great honour” to call on President Herzog.

“I bring the greetings and good wishes of the government and people of India as we approach the 30th anniversary of the upgradation of the ties,” Jaishankar wrote in the visitors’ book at Beit HaNassi.

This is Jaishankar’s first visit to Israel as External Affairs Minister. He is visiting the country at the invitation of the Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

On Wednesday, Jaishankar also unveiled a plaque at Ra’anana in northern Israel in the memory of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the Battle of Tabsor during World War I.

“Unveiled the memorial plaque for Indian Army soldiers who fought at the Battle of Tabsor in the Megiddo Offensive of September 1918,” Jaishankar tweeted. “This is part of a larger India Trail that will bring out the role of our soldiers in shaping the history of this region,” he added.

On Tuesday, Jaishankar met with Israeli Parliament Speaker Mickey Levy and they discussed at length the common challenges faced by the two countries like radicalisation and took stock of the developments in the region.

On Monday, Jaishankar held “very productive talks” with his counterpart Lapid during which the two countries agreed to resume negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) from next month with an aim to conclude the long-pending deal by next June.

India and Israel elevated bilateral relations to a strategic partnership during the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July 2017.

Since then, the relationship between the two countries has focused on expanding knowledge-based partnership, which includes collaboration in innovation and research, including boosting the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Also read: India, Israel share similar challenges from radicalism and terrorism, Jaishankar says


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