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India's Modi in Israel on historic visit to boost all-round ties

(Xinhua)    09:33, July 05, 2017

(photo by Xinhua)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Israel Tuesday for the first-ever visit of an Indian prime minister to the country, in bid to boost all-round ties.

His three-day visit marks 25 years of full diplomatic relations between the two nations.

He was accepted with an official welcome ceremony at the Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv, with the participation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and cabinet ministers.

In remarks at the airport, Netanyahu welcomed Modi, saying "It is truly a historic visit. It's the first time an Indian prime minister is visiting Israel. We receive you with open arms. We love India. We love your culture, your history, your democracy."

Netanyahu praised the ties between the two nations, noting that the Israeli and Indian governments are establishing a 40 million U.S. dollars innovation fund "as a seed for further innovation."

Modi said that it is his "singular honor to be the first-ever prime minister of India to undertake this groundbreaking visit to Israel."

He promised to forge "a strong and resilient partnership with Israel," praising Israel as a nation built "on democratic principles."

"They have nurtured it with hard work and the spirit of innovation. India applauds your achievements," he said.

Netanyahu will accompany Modi for most of his trip, which includes a visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and working meetings with President Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

His itinerary includes also meetings with industry leaders in the fields of water, agriculture, and hi-tech, as well as with people from the Indian community and Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were killed in the 2008 attack on the Mumbai Jewish center of Chabad House.

On Wednesday, Modi and Netanyahu are expected to sign seven cooperation agreements in the areas of water, energy, and research and development.

In a tweet on his Twitter account ahead of his departure, Modi described Delhi's ties with Israel as "special," saying terrorism and trade will be on the table during talks with Netanyahu.

In an interview to the Hebrew-language newspaper Israel Hayom, Modi said that his visit is "based on the deep centuries-old connection between our two peoples."

Modi is not scheduled to travel to Ramallah city in the West Bank, the political center of the Palestinian National Authority and a usual stop for leaders seeking to maintain balanced ties with Israel and the Palestinians.

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.

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(Web editor: Du Xiaofei, Bianji)

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