Modi, the man who dared to go to Israel
I begin a historic visit to Isreal, a very special partner of India, Narendra Modi who becomes the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country said. All eyes are on the visit which has been termed by experts as one of extreme strategic importance.
Here are some important points regarding the visit:
"I will have in-depth talks with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu on the full spectrum of our partnership and strengthening it in diverse fields for mutual benefit. We will also have the chance to discuss major common challenges like terrorism," the PM said in a Facebook post.
Modi said that Israel is perceived as a technological powerhouse and that it could be a technology partner in India's transformation. "Israel could be a technology partner in this process of transformation. Israel's capabilities offer a good match for our flagship schemes like Clean Ganga [the effort to clean the Ganges River] and Smart Cities," the PM told Israel Hayom in an interview.
India has treaded cautiously when it came to Israel. This is to do with the fact that India did not want to upset Arab states and Iran on which it depends on import of oil. While quietly pursuing ties with Israel, India has been a supporter of the Palestine cause.
During the visit, Modi will hold three days of talks with Benjamin Netanyahu, to advance sales and production of missiles, drones and radar systems under his signature "Make in India" drive, according to officials in New Delhi and Tel Aviv.
Both nations are expected to announce strategic partnerships in areas such a space technology, water and agriculture. There would be announcements in the defence sector as well and it must be noted that India is Israel's biggest arms market and spends an average of 1 billion US dollars a year on buying weapons.
The visit is also important as India is in the midst of a military modernisation programme worth over 100 billion US dollars. The programme is important in the backdrop of threats India faces from China and Pakistan.
Modi will be discussing a plan for Israeli help in boosting India's food security, officials said. The plan is to expand 26 agriculture expertise centres that Israel has set up in 15 Indian states to help increase output of everything from vegetables to mangoes and pomegranates.
Ahead of the visit Netanyahu, hailing it as historic. We have worked over the past few years to build a steadfast friendship he said. This visit will deepen cooperation in a wide range of fields - security, agriculture, water, energy - basically in almost every field Israel is involved in," Netanyahu also said.
In a bid to maintain a balance, Modi will also travel to Ramallah in Palestine.