Israel, India aim to step up bilateral ties during Mukherjee visit

Israel, India aim to step up bilateral ties during Mukherjee visit

India and Israel will aim to further step up bilateral engagement and are likely to sign three MoUs in water, energy and education sectors during President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to the Jewish nation later this month, which will be first ever by an Indian Head of State.

Noting that ties between the two countries are on an upswing, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon said Mukherjee's visit will be a "landmark" one during which both sides will try to expand cooperation in a range of areas.

"For many years, our relationship was held under the carpet. Now, they are more visible and open where each side brings to the table each other's advantages. We are so different, yet we are a combined force," the envoy told PTI.

India is Israel's largest buyer of military hardware. Israel has supplied various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years to India, but the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains.

India had established "full" diplomatic relationship with Israel in 1992 though it had recognised the country in 1950. No Indian Prime Minister or President has ever visited the country.

Carmon said that India and Israel have embarked on a wonderful journey together and both have engagement in areas which are of immense importance to the two nations -- from defence to food security to science and technology.

"We are working together in the field of defence and agriculture and looking at ways to widen the partnerships in fields such as water, energy and education," he said.
In this regard, he said some MoUs on water, energy and education sectors may be signed during Mukherjee's visit.

Emphasising on more people-to-people contact between the two countries, Carmon said there is a need to have more direct flights between India and Israel. He said "high-level" visits should be a regular feature between the two countries.

Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed visit to Israel, he said, "Technically, I don't think it will happen in 2015... The dates of the visit will be determined through diplomatic channels, and whenever the visit takes place it will be fruitful and significant to both countries."

Whenever Modi's visit takes place, it will mark another major step in the growing partnership between the two countries, he said.

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