Modi’s visit has huge symbolic significance: Israeli ministry

Jerusalem, July 3 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel from July 4 to 6, the first ever an Indian Prime Minister, will have huge symbolic significance, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Addressing the media here, Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General of the Asia and Pacific Division of the Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador to India, said the visit — coming as it does after 25 years of establishment of diplomatic ties — will have huge symbolic significance.

“Yes, it is crucial that this visit is taking place,” Sofer said. “There will be concrete ramifications of this visit.”

He said his ministry has put “enormous emphasis” on this visit.

According to Sofer, both countries have identified agriculture and water management as a crucial area of the future of the bilateral relationship and a joint strategic partnership will be set up in this regard. Innovation and space cooperation are other areas of cooperation.

Sofer also said that during the course of the visit, an India-Israel CEOs Forum will also be set up.

Israel’s Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon said that the trajectory of the relationship between the two countries has grown enormously.

“During this visit, we will look to the next 25 years of the relationship,” Carmon said.

Stating that Israel would represent a new kind of diplomacy by looking at the priorities of the Indian government, the Ambassador said this will include developmental diplomacy and digital diplomacy.

He said Israel has set up 15 centres of excellence in the field of agriculture in India.

Regarding Jews of Indian origin living in Israel, Sofer said there are now second generation Indian Jews in Israel.

Most of the Indian-origin Jews that Modi will meet during his visit were born in Israel, he noted.

Carmon said when Modi met Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Singapore in 2015 during the funeral of the city-state’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the Indian leader told Netanyahu that the Jewish community played an important role in the relationship between the two countries.

“Indian Jews in Israel are very proud of their Indian roots,” he said.

To a question on cooperation in the fight against terrorism, Sofer said that both countries faced common challenges.

“What is needed is concerted international action. India is no exception,” he stated.

He also said that Israel supported India in its fight against terrorism sponsored by Pakistan.

Giving an overview of Modi’s programme, Sofer said that soon after his arrival in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, the Indian leader will visit an agricultural centre before meeting Netanyahu over a private dinner.

On Wednesday, the two Prime Ministers will lead delegation-level talks that may well last four hours.

Modi will also meet Israel’s Leader of Opposition and later address a 4,000-strong gathering of Jews of Indian origin the same day.

On Thursday, the two Prime Ministers will fly by helicopter to Haifa where both will lay wreaths at the Indian Cemetery that contains the graves of Indian soldiers who died during the First World War defending Haifa.

The two leaders will travel back to Tel Aviv by car and on the way stop at a beach where Modi will be shown a state-of-the-art desalination plant.

Back in Tel Aviv, the two leaders will interact with Indian and Israeli business leaders, Sofer said.

–IANS

ab/vt

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