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Modi and Netanyahu meet, ‘Sky is the limit’, says Israeli leader

September 29
03:57 2014

Modi and Netanyahu meetSky is the limitsays Israeli leaderNEW YORK: In a rare meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed a wide range of issues including defense cooperation and the situation created by the Islamic State (IS) in West Asia.

During the 30-minute meeting, Netanyahu invited Modi to visit Israel at an early date.

Netanyahu recalled that Modi had come to Israel in his earlier capacity as Chief Minister but he now hopes that he could visit as Prime Minister, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

He said Prime Minister Modi has taken note of the invitation and this would be discussed further through diplomatic channels.

The Spokesperson said the two leaders discussed ways to enhance economic cooperation and Israel offered expertise in water management and other agricultural-related areas.

India and Israel have a very robust relationship and currently bilateral trade stands at approximately USD six billion.

“Apart from these, there were discussions on matters relating to how Israel perceives developments in the region, that is West Asia. Also, Israeli Prime Minister explained their views and vision on talks that are happening between Iran and P5 Plus 1,” the Spokesperson said.

Asked if there was a discussion on defense deals, he said, “Yes there was a discussion in terms of defense ties and the Prime Minister explained that his new vision of ‘Make in India’ was a priority.

“He also explained that right now in defense sector Israel or any other country can invest up to 49 per cent. And the Prime Minister made a pitch for skill sharing in areas like IT and water management.”

According to diplomatic officials, today’s meeting on the sidelines of the UN was rare and has not happened in the last one decade.

The last time the Prime Ministers of the two countries met was ten years ago when Ariel Sharon had come to India.

The two leaders discussed the developments in the West Asia region.

During the meeting, Modi, who had met a Jewish group earlier, also mentioned that there was no discrimination against the community in India.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other senior officials during the meeting.
“There is a deep recognition in Israel that India is the only country where anti-semitism has never been allowed to come up, where Jews have never suffered and lived as an integral part of our society,” Modi was quoted by Netanyahu’s office as saying.

The Israeli leader also updated Modi on his initiative to establish a national cyber defense authority, proposing bilateral contacts on the issue given that it can be a significant economic sector for cooperation in the future.

Modi, whose ascendance to power has generated a lot of hype in Israel raising hopes of a broader bilateral engagement, also told his Israeli counterpart that Hebrew used to be taught at the University in Mumbai which even had a Jewish Mayor in the past.

Modi was referring to Dr Elijah Moses who was the Mayor of Mumbai from 1937-38.

Some 80,000 Indian Jews live in Israel with an overwhelming majority of them having immigrated from the Maharashtra region. They are commonly referred to as Bene Israel.–PTI

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