Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel

Srinagar, Jul 3

Narendra Modi becomes the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel when he arrives on Tuesday, the result of growing ties that have led to billions of dollars in defence deals, a media report said today.

Israel, in constant search of allies to vote in its favour at UN bodies as well as business partners, has been portraying the visit as historic, the report added.

Israeli analysts have also noted Modi will apparently not travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leaders during his three-day stay, as is common for many foreign dignitaries.

Modi did, however, meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in New Delhi in May.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the visit, which marks 25 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations, a “further expression of the state of Israel´s military, economic and diplomatic strength,” the report said.

“This is a very significant step in strengthening relations between the two countries,” the Israeli leader was quoted as saying.

“India is a huge country with over 1.25 billion people and is one of the world´s largest, growing economies. Ties between Israel and India are on a constant upswing.”

India is the world´s biggest importer of defence equipment, and Israel has become one of its major suppliers.

Israeli media have reported that the two countries see more than $1 billion in defence deals each year, the report added.

India has been investing tens of billions in updating its Soviet-era military hardware to counter long-standing tensions with regional rivals China and Pakistan, the report said.

“It has signed several big-ticket defence deals since Modi´s Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power in 2014. In April, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said India would buy nearly $2 billion worth of weapons technology, making it the military exporting giant´s largest ever defence contract,” the report said.

The deal will see IAI provide India with an advanced defence system of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology, the report said.

It later announced a deal worth $630 million to provide India´s navy with missile defence systems.

The two countries have also cooperated on issues such as water and agriculture technology, the report said..

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