Home / World / Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu calls Narendra Modi a ‘friend’, says Israelis ‘eagerly await his historic’ visit

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu calls Narendra Modi a ‘friend’, says Israelis ‘eagerly await his historic’ visit

4New Delhi: Signalling the warmth in the friendship shared by the two leaders who are scheduled to meet in a few months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what the former termed would be a ”historic visit” to his country.
Calling Narendra Modi a “friend”, Benjamin Netanyahu had tweeted that Indian leader’s historic visit is being eagerly awaited by the people of Israel.
Israeli PM’s tweet was in response to a Modi’s greetings to Netanyahu on the occasion of Jewish festival of Passover to commemorate the flight of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.
PM Modi’s visit would be the first time that an Indian Prime Minister would step on Israeli soil since 1992 when the two countries established full diplomatic relations.
However, PM Modi and Netanyahu did meet on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2014.
It was then, the first meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries in over a decade.
Though there has been no official announcement regarding PM Narendra Modi’s Israel visit but the groundwork for the same has been going on for months.
Last month, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was also in Israel to fast-track finalisation of pacts to be signed during the prime ministerial visit.
On the cards are multiple defence deals for the Spike anti-tank missiles for the Indian army and Barak-8 air defence missiles for the navy valued at $ 1.5 billion, a Bloomberg report said.
Last week, Israel Aerospace Industries announced a $ 2 billion mega missile pact that will give Indian forces an advanced defence system of medium-range surface-to-air missiles; the mega missile deal has been called Israel’s biggest defence contract.
Israel is already the third-largest arms supplier to India over the last three years. But the new deals being finalised ahead of PM Modi’s visit also indicate that New Delhi didn’t have any qualms about closer relations with Israel.
PM Modi, who had travelled to Israel in 2006 when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister, was widely expected to make the visit much earlier. Instead, President Pranab Mukherjee travelled to Israel in 2015 and addressed Israeli Parliament too.
It was during this visit that Netanyahu had spoken about his earlier interactions with PM Modi. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj followed it up with a visit in 2016.

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