Jerusalem: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-anticipated visit to Israel could take place in mid-2017 in what would be the first such tour by an Indian Premier to the Jewish state, as the two countries mark 25 years of their diplomatic ties.
India’s Ambassador to Israel Pavan Kapoor told news portal ‘Ynet’ about the visit and mentioned about efforts to boost defence cooperation with Israel, which is looking to set up manufacturing units in India under ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Informed sources told PTI the dates for Modi’s visit have not been finalised but “it is likely to happen in June-July of 2017.”
Modi’s visit is being discussed amid talks of a “close chemistry” between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
India-Israel ties have steadily progressed since the two countries established diplomatic relations in January 1992 but India has shied away from such high-level visits in the past.
However, BJP-led governments seem to have accorded a greater priority to this relationship with President Pranab Mukherjee visiting Israel in October 2015 in what was the first such visit by an Indian Head of State to Israel.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made a reciprocal visit last year at Mukhejee’s invitation. It was the second visit by an Israeli Head of State to New Delhi, coming after a gap of almost 20 years.
The only visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to India happened in 2003, when Ariel Sharon visited New Delhi. Yet, bilateral ties have been on an upward trajectory, irrespective of the governments in power in New Delhi.
The two leaders have met twice on foreign soil on the sidelines of UN-related events and are said to be constantly in touch with each other over the phone.
During their meeting on the sidelines of Paris Climate summit in 2015, Modi had told Netanyahu: “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.”