Defence, trade and Bollywood: Netanyahu visits India

Defence, trade and Bollywood: Netanyahu visits India
From Al Jazeera - January 14, 2018

Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in India on a six-day trip, becoming the second Israeli prime minister to visit New Delhi since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.

In a move described by the Indian foreign ministry as a "departure from protocol", Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Netanyahu at the Delhi airport on Sunday.

It is Netanyahu's first official trip to the South Asian country.

"The visit is a fitting culmination to the silver jubilee year of the formal relationship," foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Twitter.

Defence, security, trade and agriculture cooperation will be high on the agenda, as Israel looks to cement closer ties with South Asia's major economic power.

India is the biggest buyer of Israeli defence equipment.

We have landed in India. Thank you to my good friend Narendra Modi for the warm welcome!

Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 14, 2018

The trip comes weeks after New Delhi voted against Israel at the United Nations resolution on the status of Jerusalem.

Apoorva Gautam, head of BDS India, said "intensifying" of diplomatic relations with Israel shows "there is deep contradiction in India's position at the international level with respect to Israel".

"There is an unmistakable attempt to join the US-Israel camp except when it comes to taking positions at the UN."

She added that India's support to Palestinian cause at the UN is in "response to international pressures and an attempt to not isolate India".

Modi, who became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel six months ago, has addressed Netanyahu as a "friend".

The Indian leader had cultivated closer ties with Israel while he was still the chief minister of Gujarat state.

On Sunday, the two prime ministers attended a ceremony at a war memorial in New Delhi to mark the formal renaming of Teen Murti Chowk as Teen Murti Haifa Chowk as a symbolic gesture of friendship.

At least 44 Indian soldiers had laid down their lives protecting the Israeli city of Haifa during World War I.

"The Israeli Prime Minister's visit to India signifies intensification of the strategic partnership with India, which is based on three legs - defence, intelligence and civilian sector trade and investment," said Sreeram Chaulia, the Dean of Jindal School of International Affairs.

Illegal settlements


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