India and Israel would set up strategic partnerships in areas of water, agriculture and space technology during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Tel Aviv.
Modi begins a first visit to the Jewish state by an Indian Prime Minister today in a public embrace of a country that he has long admired for its military and technical expertise, but which his predecessors kept at arm’s length.
A senior Israeli official, Mark Sofer, said Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss a plan to boost India’s food security.
The plan is to expand 26 agriculture expertise centers that Israel has set up in 15 Indian states to help increase output of everything from vegetables to mangoes and pomegranates.
Other key focus area would be Defence, as India is in the midst of a military Modernization programme worth more than 100 billion U.S. Dollars to help counter rivals Pakistan and China.
India is now Israel’s biggest arms market, buying weapons at an average of $1 billion each year.
Modi will hold three days of talks with his Netanyahu, to advance sales and production of missiles, drones and radar systems under his signature ‘Make in India’ drive.
India has traditionally trodden a careful diplomatic line in the region, analysts say, wary of upsetting Arab states and Iran – upon whom it relies for its vast imports of oil – and its large Muslim minority.
New Delhi has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, even as it quietly pursued ties with Israel.
But now Modi is lifting the curtain on the thriving relationship. He will not travel to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian authority and a customary stop for visiting leaders trying to maintain a balance in political ties.