(January 17, 2018 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is “revolutionizing” ties between the nations as the two leaders signed nine bilateral agreements on Monday in New Delhi.
“You are a revolutionary leader in the best sense of the word ‘revolution,’” Netanyahu said, noting that Modi’s visit to Israel last summer was the first such trip by an Indian prime minister “in 3,000 years of our own sovereign existence and our history.”
Netanyahu added that “something different is happening now because of your leadership and because of our partnership.”
Modi said that Netanyahu’s visit “is a long-anticipated moment in the journey of friendship between India and Israel. Your visit is also a fitting climax to the commemoration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel.” He added that in Netanyahu, he has “a counterpart who is equally committed to taking the India-Israel relationship to soaring new heights.”
The two leaders issued a joint statement that reaffirmed the “strategic relationship” between the countries, while also signing nine different bilateral agreements covering areas such as cyber security, space, the film industry, aviation, investment, and oil and gas exploration. The agreements kicked off work on the start of a bilateral free trade pact.
“The two Prime Ministers share a common vision for the relationship,” the statement said. “They believe that in the next 25 years, the two respective countries should strive to raise bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors to a qualitatively new level in consonance with our Strategic Partnership.”
Netanyahu has been accompanied by a 130-member business delegation on his trip, and has said he hopes to increase Israeli exports to India by 25 percent during the next three years. Bilateral trade between the two countries has grown from $200 million in 1992, when ties were established, to $4.16 billion in 2016. Israel, along with the U.S. and Russia, is one of the largest defense exporters to India.