Defence, agriculture, water management on PM Narendra Modi's Israel agenda

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Defence, agriculture, water management on PM Narendra Modi's Israel agenda
Defence, agriculture, water management on PM Narendra Modi's Israel agenda

New Delhi : Defence, agriculture and water management are among the various areas of cooperation that will come up for discussion when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Israel, the first prime ministerial visit from India to that country, a senior official said on Thursday.

"There are several areas of cooperation that include agriculture, water, maritime, science and technology, start-ups, and defence," B. Bala Bhaskar, Joint Secretary (West Asia and North Africa) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said while briefing the media here.

"We are continuously working to diversify and strengthen our bilateral cooperation besides exploring new avenues of cooperation," Bhaskar said.

He said that Israel has expressed its "great willingness" over the last three years to participate in India's flagship initiatives like Make in India, Clean Ganga, Smart Cities and Digital India.

Stating that there has been cooperation going on in the agriculture sector, he said: "With the help of Israel we have established centres of excellence in various states aimed at increasing productivity, crop management, and water management ."

In terms of science and technology, Bhaskar said that both sides were cooperating in the area of space. As for economic cooperation, he said that bilateral trade stood at $4.16 billion but added that it was in favour of Israel by $300 million. 

"We are importing around 20 per cent of phosphate from Israel. It is an important contributor to the energy sector," he said.

With India and Israel already having a high-level of cooperation, New Delhi will also seek to develop greater cooperation on homeland security when Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu hold bilateral talks.

On the international stage, Israel supports India's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. After landing on July 4, Modi will have his official engagements, including bilateral talks with Netanyahu and a call on President Rivlin the next day.

On July 6, he will interact with Israeli business leaders and also address the Indian diaspora. According to the Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv, there are about 85,000 Jews of Indian origin in Israel. 

This apart, there are about 10,000 Indian nationals in Israel, of whom around 9,000 work in the care-giving sector, while the rest are mostly diamond traders, IT professionals and students.

During the course of the visit, Modi will also pay homage to Indian soldiers at the Haifa Indian Cemetery that contains the graves of 49 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War.

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