India is all set to host Israeli President Rueven Livlin in November. Currently, senior officials of the two countries hold talks on arrangements made by the South Asian country for Linlin’s visit.
According to sources close to the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi, the Indian PM wants to discuss ways to strengthen security partnership with his ‘key’ West Asian partner. A senior Indian official has said that Prime Minister Modi will discuss bilateral ties in areas, ranging from defence and counter-terrorism to water resources, agriculture and start-ups, with the visiting Israeli president.
Although Jerusalem is yet to confirm President Livlin’s visit to India, the Israeli government has hinted that the 76-year-old head of the state may visit several Indian cities during his short trip to the country. A couple of months ago, the Israeli president wished to visit India, saying: “The co-operation between the two countries is something that is said all over. The co-operation is not only in innovation, but you know very well that we are trying our very best to address problems of agriculture, water, energy, cyber and every need of security that we have to work out in order to be prepared for the kind of burden of security that is imposed on both people.”
During his meeting with Indian Ambassador to Israel Pavan Kapoor in August, the president stressed that he was waiting for Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Jerusalem. “I know that I am going to visit your wonderful country in the next few months,” he told the envoy. Ambassador Kapoor not only thanked President Livlin for Israel’s support to India during the Kargil war with neighbouring Pakistan (in 1999), but also informed him that the Indian government was keen to bolster ties with Israel as part of its initiative to build security and economic partnerships across West Asia.
Meanwhile, India has also decided to hold first Joint Commission Meeting with Palestine to explore new avenues for strengthening bilateral economic ties. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has issued a statement, saying that the Joint Commission Meeting with Palestine may take place ahead of the Israeli president’s visit to New Delhi.
The Modi administration is well aware of the fact that India needs a balanced and multi-directional West Asia policy to serve its interests. For the last few years, New Delhi has been maintaining cordial ties with the rival poles (such as Palestine and Israel, and Saudi Arabia and Iran) in regional geopolitics. In the past, India stayed out of all international efforts to manage conflicts in West Asia. Later, it realised that it was not how an aspiring great power should behave. So, Prime Minister Modi has decided to maintain ‘close’ ties with all the West Asian countries and (if possible) to help them resolve their outstanding issues by playing the role of a mediator.