Defence deals, Bollywood: India ready to greet PM Netanyahu

On arrival both the leaders Modi and Netanyahu are expected to reach Sabarmati Ashram in a 8-km-long roadshow from Ahmedabad airport similar to one held by Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in September last year. Reuters fil

"The question is if it will influence our relationship or if it can influence the relationship", Carmon said in response to a question ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India starting Sunday.

Strengthening cooperation in key areas of trade and defence, including a possible inking of a multi-million dollar Israeli anti-tank missiles deal, is on the table during the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Sunday, with its envoy today terming Indo- Israel ties as irreversible. Modi will host a private dinner for the Israeli leader, who will also visit Gujarat and Mumbai.

Carmon, on his part, said that the Spike project is an example of Israel engaging in the Make in India programme. It [the issue of India's negative vote at the UN General Assembly] is being talked about through diplomatic channels between our countries.

"I don't think it can influence the relationship". The Indians are believing and want to expand business opportunities with Israel. "The visit will focus on the progress made between India and Israel since Prime Minister Modi's visit to Israel last summer, and on shaping the next 25 years of relations between our countries and our peoples".

"If the bilateral trade is extended to all relevant sectors, and the market becomes more accessible to companies from the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sectors in both countries, the volume of trade can reach at least $10 billion within the next few years", Grossman added, pointing to the current bilateral trade volume pegged at around $4.5 billion. It will be the second visit by an Israeli prime minister to India, and comes 15 years after Ariel Sharon visited New Delhi in 2003.

Also on the agenda is the signing of bilateral agreements on energy, cyber and aviation and discussions on a five-year working plan for the two countries.

Mr Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have not tried "to hide the fact that they find big commonalities between India and Israel", Mr Taneja said. In 2009, Barak 8 deal was signed between India and Israel. During his three day visit in Israel, Indian delicacies were specially cooked for PM Modi by an Israeli chef of Indian origin, a personal favourite of Netanyahu's.

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Netanyahu will also meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and hold delegation level talks.

Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, would be travelling to Agra to see the Taj Mahal on January 16, and return to Delhi to participate in the Raisina Dialogue.

Netanyahu is also scheduled to visit a Centre of Excellence in Agriculture at Vadrad, Gujarat, that has been set up with Israeli assistance. "iCreate" was formally launched in 2011 by Modi when he was the chief minister.

The two would then proceed for a Sabarkantha-based centre of excellence for agriculture.

Nevertheless, India will try to maintain a balance in its dealings with Israel and Palestine. The India-Israel bilateral trade in 2016-17 stood at $5 billion, with exports from India accounting for $3 billion.

Thus, despite the bloated rhetoric by Rightwing elements on both sides, ties between Israel and India will remain transactional.

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