Netanyahu: Indian PM Modi ‘Revolutionized Our Relationship’

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man installs flags of India and Israel on a lamp post ahead of the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (REUTERS/Amit Dave)

The meeting took place after a visit by Netanyahu and Modi to the resting place of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. Prior to the meeting, Netanyahu called Modi “a revolutionary leader of India, revolutionizing the India-Israel relationships. Until you visited Israel, none before you had visited our sovereign state.”

Modi said that Netanyahu’s visit “is a good start to the new year,” which is being celebrated in India in the coming days. “I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the Israeli people led by my friend, Bibi. I promised our people to uphold a strategic partnership. Our friendship has linked both countries for centuries.”

In a separate statement, Modi’s office said that the discussions with PM Netanyahu were wide ranging and intensive, marked by a desire to do more.

“I have a reputation of getting impatient with getting results. If I may let out an open secret, so are you…. We want to strengthen agriculture, science and technology. We exchanged views on centers of excellence. In defense, I have invited Israeli companies to make more weapons in India. We are also committed to [a] flow of people and ideas between our geographies. Working with Israel to bring people closer on both sides,” PM Modi commented.

PM Netanyahu, who will be in India until the end of the week, was accompanied on the trip by several hundred diplomats and business people, who are interested in cementing ties between the two countries.

Netanyahu met Sunday with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. At the start of the meeting, Netanyahu said that “there’s a lot of enthusiasm, not only in our meetings at the level of governments and leaders, but also in the people. I see this and it’s heartwarming. So I want to thank you for this welcome, and I look forward to discussing with you how we can further improve our ties.”

Before that meeting, Netanyahu and Modi attended a ceremony to name a square in New Delhi in honor of Haifa. The square is dedicated to the Indian soldiers who fell during World War I in the fighting to liberate Haifa. PM Netanyahu said that “this gesture underscores the special link and the common history between Israel and India.”