Modi set to be­come first In­dian prime min­is­ter to visit Is­rael

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

NEW DELHI / TEL AVIV — Naren­dra Modi would be­come the first In­dian prime min­is­ter to visit Is­rael when he ar­rives on Tues­day, the re­sult of grow­ing ties that have led to bil­lions of dol­lars in de­fense deals.

Is­rael, in con­stant search of al­lies to vote in its fa­vor at UN bod­ies as well as business part­ners, has been por­tray­ing the visit as his­toric.

Modi 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, dur­ing his three-day stay.

Modi did how­ever meet Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­mud Ab­bas in New Delhi in May.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu called the visit, which marks 25 years since the two coun­tries estab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions, a “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,” he said.

“In­dia is a huge coun­try with more than 1.25 bil­lion peo­ple and is one of the world’s largest, grow­ing economies. Ties be­tween Is­rael and In­dia are on a con­stant up­swing.”

But while Is­rael, with a pop­u­la­tion of eight mil­lion, has held the visit up as a diplo­matic vic­tory, both coun­tries have prac­ti­cal rea­sons for the trip.

In­dia is the world’s big­gest im­porter of de­fense equip­ment, and Is­rael has be­come one of its ma­jor sup­pli­ers.

Is­raeli me­dia have re­ported that the two coun­tries see more than $1 bil­lion in de­fense deals each year.

In­dia has been in­vest­ing tens of bil­lions in up­dat­ing its Soviet-era mil­i­tary hard­ware. It has signed sev­eral big-ticket de­fense deals since Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power in 2014.

In April, state-owned Is­rael Aero­space In­dus­tries said In­dia would buy nearly $2 bil­lion worth of weapons tech­nol­ogy, mak­ing it the mil­i­tary ex­port­ing gi­ant’s largest de­fense con­tract.

The deal will see IAI pro­vide In­dia with an ad­vanced de­fense sys­tem of medi­um­range sur­face-to-air mis­siles, launch­ers and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy.

In­dia ... is one of the world’s largest, grow­ing economies. Ties be­tween Is­rael and In­dia are on a con­stant up­swing.” Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, Is­raeli prime min­is­ter

It later an­nounced a deal worth $630 mil­lion to pro­vide In­dia’s navy with mis­sile de­fense sys­tems.

Is­rael, the United States and Rus­sia are In­dia’s top mil­i­tary sup­pli­ers, and Modi’s govern­ment has said it will fa­vor coun­tries that are ready to share tech­nol­ogy.

Modi will also be dis­cussing a plan for Is­raeli help in boost­ing In­dia’s food se­cu­rity, of­fi­cials said.

KIM HONG-JI / REUTERS

South Korean barista Lee Kang-bin’s latte se­lec­tions, known as Crea­marts, are seen at his cof­fee shop in Seoul on Fri­day.

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