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Modi likely to visit Israel this year

New Delhi: Narendra Modi is expected to visit Israel by the middle of this year, a first by any Indian Prime Minister to the Jewish nation.

Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations), said the Prime Minister’s visit is on cards but declined to divulge details.

Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs indicated the visit could take place somewhere around June.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also likely to visit India this year.

The two nations are celebrating 25 years of diplomatic ties this year.

Speaking at an art exhibition– ‘Hodu and the Jews’– here, Sinha said although both the countries have cooperation in the defence and the security sectors, “conscious” efforts are being made to make it a “multi-dimensional relationship”, and not merely “unifocal”.

Daniel Carmon, Israel’s envoy to India, said PM Modi’s visit is likely to be in the “summer”, but he too did not go into details.

Carmon also said the two sides are working on “every possible area of cooperation”. He, however, refused to comment on cooperation in the field of defence.

When Modi visits the Jewish nation, both the countries are expected to hold talks in areas ranging from agriculture to defence to cyber security and innovations.

Sinha underlined the cooperation between the two countries in the areas of cyber-security and drinking water.

He also cited the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to Israel in October, 2015, followed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to the Jewish nation early last year.

Last November, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also visited India.

“We are trying to establish a programme under our Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) project. We already have a programme where Indian professor go and teach in Israel. So, we are exploring new areas,” Sinha said.

Sinha said the two countries have planned a series of events to celebrate the silver jubilee of the diplomatic relationship this year.

It has been decided “at the highest level”, to create joint coordination committee to plan out the activities.

This includes visits by business delegations, academic fora. Sinha said Israel sits in an area of great concern and interest to India.

New Delhi formally recognised Israel on September 17, 1950. Embassies were opened in 1992 when full diplomatic relations were established.

—–PTI