Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday hailed his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to Israel, the first by an Indian premier, as a 'very significant step' in strengthening bilateral relations that are on a 'constant upswing'.
In a big fillip to already robust ties, Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to land in Israel on July 4 on a three-day visit. Netanyahu, while speaking at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, said, "Next week, the Indian Prime Minister, my friend, Narendra Modi will arrive in Israel.
This is a historic visit to Israel. In the 70 years of the country's existence, no Indian Prime Minister has ever visited and this is further expression of the state of Israel's military, economic and diplomatic strength."
"This is a very significant step in strengthening relations between the two countries," Netanyahu said.
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', the Israelipremier said.
Modi's visit is aimed at commemorating 25 years of establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Modi would be arriving in Israel on July 4 and is likely to meet Netanyahu the same day in the evening.
He would alsobe addressing the Indian community the following day in TelAviv. Netanyahu, in his remarks on Sunday, said the Cabinet will approve decisions that will deepen Indo-Israel ties, beginning with expanding exports and deepening cooperation inagriculture and water.
"We will establish a joint innovation, and research and development, fund. We will also increase tourism from India to Israel; this has very great potential. All of this is anadditional expression of Israel's enhanced international position in recent years as we strengthen the state ofIsrael," Netanyahu said.
The two leaders have already met twice on foreign soil onthe sidelines of UN-related events and are said to be constantly in touch with each other over the phone.
"I am happy that often we can talk easily on telephone, we can discuss everything. It has very rarely happened. In your case it has happened," Modi had told Netanyahu during their meeting on the sidelines of Paris Climate summit in November 2015.
The Israeli premier had then promptly responded saying, "in your case too". The defence ties between India and Israel have often drawn worldwide attention and acquired strategic dimensions.
It is believed that Modi's visit would further solidify security ties as Israeli defence industries have shown greater inclination towards participating in joint ventures to give aboost to NDA government's 'Make in India' campaign.
Prime Minister Modi's visit has been preceded by severalother high-profile visits, including the trip of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, several senior secretaries, Minister of State for Agriculture S S Ahluwalia-led 11 membermulti-party parliamentary delegation and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba's five-day visit earlier this month.
All these visits have laid the ground work for several MoUs that are likely to be signed during Modi's visit.