S M Krishna's West Asia tour to strengthen regional ties

S M Krishna's West Asia tour to strengthen regional ties

 In a bid to bolster strategic and economic ties with the West Asian region, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna will embark on a four-day visit to Israel, Jordan, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates from Sunday.

Krishna’s visit to Israel and Palestine is considered significant as this will be the first by an Indian foreign minister in a decade.

Krishna's visit to Tel Aviv from January 8-10 will coincide with the celebration of 20th year of establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel. It will be marked by two agreements on extradition treaty and transfer of sentenced persons that India will sign with the country.

He is likely to call on Israeli President Simon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu besides holding talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Krishna’s talks with the Israeli leaders will focus on the cooperation between the countries in many of the emerging areas such as defence, security, agriculture and science and technology.

India is also keen to further strengthen the partnership in the field of defence. In recent years Israel has emerged as India's second largest defence supplier after Russia. Building counter-terrorism mechanism, including training of personnel, has emerged as a key area amongst the countries after the 26/11 terror attacks in which six Israelis were killed. Bilateral trade between the two countries has grown from $200 million in 1992 to $ 5 billion now. Negotiations regarding free trade agreement are on, while the two sides witnessed an increase in cooperation in agriculture and related activities in the recent past. A joint working group is likely to be set up in this area while a research and development fund is likely to be created in agriculture and related fields.

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