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We love India, see it as a great friend: Israeli PM Naftali Bennett after meeting Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday held “warm and prosperous” discussions with the top Israeli leadership to realize the full potential of the bilateral strategic partnership. They exchanged views on changes in the geopolitical landscape and global affairs.

Jaishankar met Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and discussed “strengthening the strategic alliance, expanding bilateral ties and deepening the warm friendship between Israel and India”, the media advisor to the Israeli PM said.

The advisor said Bennett thanked his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jaishankar for their personal commitment to the partnership between Israel and India.

“I speak on behalf of Israel. We love India. We see India as a great friend and we look forward to expanding our relations in all areas and in all dimensions. I look forward to a very productive meeting,” Bennett told Jaishankar at the beginning of the meeting.

Jaishankar congratulated PM Modi on the Israeli leader and invited him to make his first official visit to India.

“We are at a very important stage in our relationship today because things have been great for us. But it has opened up a lot of possibilities. So, I feel like working to take our relationship to the next highest level. There are (are) challenges. India’s sentiment and interest in our relationship with Israel is very strong.”

“A warm and rich discussion on realizing the full potential of our strategic partnership. In a tweet after the meeting, Jaishankar said, PM Bennett’s purposeful and focused approach was very encouraging.

Jaishankar said that sharing Bennett’s strategic vision was also very valuable.

“India and Israel will work more closely to realize the vision of our partnership for the next 30 years,” he tweeted.

Earlier, Jaishankar met Israeli President Isaac Herzog at Bet Hanasi, the official residence of the President here.

The two leaders discussed ways to promote and strengthen the growing bilateral ties in various fields, besides exchanging views on global strategic matters.

“Glad to meet President @Isaac_Herzog. Our conversation covered changes in the geopolitical landscape,” Jaishankar tweeted.

“Deeply appreciate their visible commitment to take our bilateral relations to the next level,” he said.

According to a press release issued by the presidential office, President Herzog thanked Prime Minister Modi and his ministers for their personal commitment and for promoting and strengthening ties with Israel.

During the diplomatic work meeting, Herzog also praised the flourishing of Israel-India relations in several areas.

“Two ancient nations, two proud democracies. Today’s discussion with our close friend and fellow Finance Minister of India @DrSJaishankar has fueled the excitement. Great promise for Israel-Indian cooperation on technology, trade, energy and more. We can do so much with our combined creativity,” President Herzog tweeted.

Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and India next year, President Herzog emphasized his intention to personally assist in promoting and strengthening this important relationship, the statement said.

President Herzog and Jaishankar further discussed global strategic matters.

Jaishankar said it was “a great honour” to meet President Herzog. “I bring my best wishes and best wishes to the Government and people of India as we near the 30th anniversary of the gradation of relations,” Jaishankar wrote in the visitors’ book at Beit Hanasi.

This is Jaishankar’s first visit to Israel as External Affairs Minister. He is visiting the country at the invitation of alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

On Wednesday, Jaishankar also unveiled a plaque in northern Israel’s Ranana in memory of Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the Battle of Tabsor during World War I.

“Unveiled a memorial plaque for the soldiers of the Indian Army who fought in the Battle of Tabasore in the Megiddo attack of September 1918,” Jaishankar tweeted. “It is part of a larger India Trail that will bring to the fore the role of our soldiers in shaping the history of the region,” he said.

Jaishankar on Tuesday met Speaker of the Israeli Parliament Mickey Levy and they discussed at length the common challenges facing the two countries like radicalization and took stock of developments in the region.

On Monday, Jaishankar had “very productive talks” with his counterpart Lapid during which the two countries agreed to resume talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) from next month, aimed at prolonging the next June. The pending transaction is to be terminated.

India and Israel elevated bilateral ties to a strategic partnership during Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Israel in July 2017.

Since then, relations between the two countries have focused on expanding knowledge-based partnerships, including collaboration in innovation and research, including promoting the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

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