New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at the Air Force Station on Sunday.—AFP
New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at the Air Force Station on Sunday.—AFP

NEW DELHI: Israeli Prime Mini­ster Benjamin Netanyahu arrived on a six-day visit to India on Sunday and he, together with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who broke protocol to receive him at the airport, said they would bring their ties to a new height.

In bilateral talks to be held on Monday, the two leaders are expected to discuss defence, security and innovation, apart from agriculture and water technology cooperation.

The Indian Express said the two sides are likely to sign several pacts in the areas of oil and gas, renewable energy, amended protocol for airports, cyber-security, and co-production of films and documentaries, among others.

The Union Health Ministry will also sign an agreement with Israel’s Saare Tzedek hospital on homoeopathy and Ayurveda. The Science and Technology Ministry will also sign a pact with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Netanyahu is leading a high-profile delegation of 130 businessmen from 102 Israeli companies drawn from areas such as agriculture, water, cyber-security, healthcare and security.

After his arrival, Mr Netanyahu, who came with his wife Sara, tweeted, “Thank you to my good friend, Indian Prime Minister @narendramodi, who surprised me with a personal welcome at the airport upon my arrival in India. Together we will bring the relations between our countries to new heights.”

Mr Modi, who welcomed Netanyahu with a hug upon his arrival, said: “Welcome to India, my friend PM @netanyahu! Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations.” Mr Modi tweeted in both English and Hebrew, the Express said.

The two leaders then went to the Teen Murti Chowk in central Delhi, which was formally renamed Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk. They also laid a wreath and signed the visitor’s book at the memorial, where Modi wrote, in Gujarati, that he saluted the “great Indian traditions of selfless sacrifice and penance” of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives during the liberation of the city of Haifa during the First World War. “One of these pages was written 100 years ago, in the sacrifice of Indian soldiers at Haifa… Naming this spot as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk marks this historic occasion. In the presence of the Prime Minister of Israel, we pay homage to the brave soldiers,” Mr Modi wrote in the visitor’s book.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2018