Narendra Modi receives Israel PM Netanyahu at airport

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday received his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu at the airport as he reached New Delhi on a six-day visit to India.

Modi received Netanyahu at the airport reciprocating a gesture Israeli Prime Minister had extended to him when he himself had visited Israel to commence his landmark visit to the west asian nation in July 2017.

"We (Israel and India) will sign many agreements. We are strengthening ties between Israel and this important global power," Netanyahu tweeted before his departure for New Delhi. "This serves our security, economic, trade and tourism interests, as well as many other areas. This is a great blessing for the State of Israel."

"A special welcome for a special visit...PM @narendramodi personally receives @IsraeliPM @netanyahu at Delhi airport," tweeted Prime Minister's Office.

The two prime ministers drove straight from the airport to Teenmurti Chowk to pay homage to the soldiers of Mysore Lancers, Jodhpur Lancers and Hyderabad Lancers, who had fought for the allied forces to wrest control of Haifa now a major port city on Mediterranean Coast of Israel from the Ottoman Empire in September 2018 during World War I.

Modi and Netanyahu formally renamed the Teenmurti Chowk as Teenmurti-Haifa Chowk, commemorating the centenary of the historic Battle of Haifa.

They placed wreaths before the three bronze statues, representing the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers, who had carried out the victorious assault on the garrisoned town of Haifa and defeated the joint force of Ottomans, Germany and Austria Hungary.

Apart from New Delhi, Netanyahu will visit Agra, Ahmedabad and Mumbai during his first visit to India. He will hold formal bilateral talks with Modi on Monday. The two sides are expected to ink pacts to step up cooperation in the fields of energy, space technology, cyber security and production of films. The two prime ministers are also expected to discuss ways to step up defence and counter-terrorism cooperation.

Modi's meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem in July last year saw India and Israel upgrading bilateral relations to a strategic partnership with special focus on agriculture and water.

Modi will also join Netanyahu during a visit to a Center of Excellence for Vegetables at Vadrad in Gujarat.

The centre is one of the 28 centres Israel is setting up in 11 states of India to help farmers to increase crop diversity and productivity with greater efficiency in use of resources.

The two prime ministers will also inaugurate another Center of Excellence for Date Palms in Bhuj through video conference. They will also visit the iCreate innovation campus and center in Ahmedabad.

Prime Minister of Israel will also call on President Ram Nath Kovind during his stay in New Delhi.

Netanyahu is the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India after Ariel Sharon, who had come to New Delhi in 2003. Ezer Weizmann's visit to New Delhi in 1997 was the first by an Israeli President. Reuven Rivlin, the current president of the West Asian nation, visited India in 2016.

Pranab Mukherjee was the first President of India to visit Israel in 2015. Modi's in July last year was the first visit by a Prime Minister of India to Israel.

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