Tel Aviv, July 4 (IANS) Welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival here, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday termed the friendship between their two countries as “natural”.
Making a statement soon after Prime Minister Modi landed in Tel Aviv on a three-day visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, Netanyahu also announced that a $40 million innovation fund was being set up for cooperation between India and Israel.
In his comments, Prime Minister Modi said India counts Israel as an important partner in its path to development and a strong resilient partnership with it will be his focus.
Modi said he was “honoured” to be the first Indian Prime Minister to be visiting Israel, though the two nations set up formal diplomatic relations 25 years ago.
After according a red carpet welcome to Modi at the airport, Netanyahu said that in their first meeting three years ago Modi had said ‘sky is the limit’ for India-Israel relationship.
“You said when it comes to India-Israel relationship, sky is the limit. But actually my friend the sky isn’t the limit because today our space programmes are working towards reaching even greater heights,” a smiling Israeli Prime Minister said.
“The tie between our talented, innovative people is natural. It is so natural that we can ask what took so long for them to blossom.”
He also announced an innovation fund for cooperation in the fields of technology, water, agriculture, energy and other fields.
“In this visit, your Make in India initiative, meets my Make with India policy. We are setting up a $40 million innovation fund as the seed for even greater cooperation on technology between us,” he added.
Modi, in his remarks, said, “India is an old civilisation but a young nation as 800 million youth are below 35 years of age. On the path of sustainable and high growth and all-round development, India counts Israel as an important partner,” Modi said.
“We are also cooperating to secure our countries against common threats such as terrorism…My visit marks a path breaking journey…A strong and resilient partnership with Israel will be my focus,” Modi said.
Modi landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday, and was accorded a red carpet welcome and exchanged a warm hug with the Israeli Prime Minister. This is the first visit ever of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel.