Israel prepares for first-ever visit by India PM

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-03 18:58:20|Editor: Yurou Liang
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JERUSALEM, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Israel was preparing on Monday for a "historic" visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first-ever visit by an Indian prime minister in the Jewish country.

Modi is expected to land at the Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon for a three-day trip before going to Germany, where he would attend the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

"This is a historic first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel in 70 years," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting on Monday.

Referring to Modi as "my friend," Netanyahu said he would "accompany the prime minister at many events during his visit."

The visit "attests to the fact that our relations with India have become closer in recent years," Netanyahu said, adding that he hopes the visit "will deepen cooperation in a range of areas."

Modi's visit would focus on cooperation in the areas of security and defense, agriculture, water, and energy, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office.

The visit comes 25 years after the two countries established full diplomatic ties and 14 years after the late Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, arrived in New Delhi.

His visit was widely perceived by local media as a public embrace to the ties between the two countries, which Modi's predecessors kept on low-profile trying to craft a careful foreign policy that would not upset its large Muslim minority and keep good relations with the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, its main oil providers.

The visit comes at the backdrop of billion dollars weapons and security deals signed between Israel and India over the past months, according to local media reports.

In April, India signed a 1.6-billion U.S. dollar deal with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to buy a missile defense system called MRSAM (Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile.)

The system is designed to defend against all types of airborne threats, and is composed of launchers, missiles, radar systems, and communication and control systems. It was reportedly the largest-ever deal signed by IAI.