Narendra Modi Becomes First Indian PM to Visit Israel

Narendra Modi Becomes First Indian PM to Visit IsraelNarendra Modi Becomes First Indian PM to Visit Israel

Narendra Modi has arrived in Tel Aviv, becoming the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel.

Modi, who recently said India and Israel share a “deep and centuries-old” connection, is expected to agree military and cyber security deals, BBC reported.

Observers note he will not travel to Ramallah or meet Palestinian leaders, as visiting dignitaries often do.

The visit is seen by some as a turning point on India’s position on Israel.

Modi called the visit “ground-breaking” as he was met at the airport by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They will have dinner this evening ahead of formal talks on Wednesday.

For years, Israel and India have been working closely together on counter-terrorism and defense issues and India has been a regular customer of arms from Israel.

Working to modernize its military to counter China and Pakistan, India is now Israel’s biggest arms market, thought to be worth about $1bn (£770m) per year, according to Reuters news agency.

The cooperation ranges from a jointly built air defense system to India buying drones, radar, cyber security and communication systems.

Aside from defense deals, the two countries also want to expand cooperation in other areas, notably Israel helping India to improve agricultural productivity and food security.

India and Israel have had diplomatic relations for 25 years.

In the past however, the relationship has always been a balancing act given India’s sizeable Muslim population and the country’s dependence on oil imports from Arab countries and Iran.

Netanyahu has described Modi’s visit as “historic”, saying it would “deepen cooperation in a wide range of fields - security, agriculture, water, energy - basically in almost every field Israel is involved in”.

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