Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who arrived in India on Monday for a six-day visit, has assured the top political leadership in New Delhi that his country will back India’s stand on fighting terrorism.
During his meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Indian leaders on Tuesday, President Rivlin said that the main purpose of his visit was to strengthen bilateral defence and political ties. He told President Mukherjee that the two countries should intensify co-operation in combating radicalisation and extremism, apart from encouraging the global community to act tough against terror networks.
Speaking at a press conference, a senior official of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that Prime Minister Modi welcomed Jerusalem’s decision to bolster co-operation with New Delhi in a variety of areas, including trade and investment, agriculture, water resources and cyber crime. Modi told Rivlin that India was happy to host an Israeli president in nearly 20 years. The last Israeli president to visit India was Ezer Weizman in January 1997.
According to PM Modi, Israel is India’s ‘ideal’ partner (as far as the war against terrorism is concerned) because both the countries are constantly threatened by forces of terrorism and extremism. “We recognise that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organised crime. We agreed that the international community must act with resolve and determination against terror networks and states that harbour them. Failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists,” added the Indian premier.
For his part, Rivlin said that because of the current geopolitical situation in South Asia, India has emerged as largest buyer of Israeli military hardware. He made clear that Jerusalem would continue supplying various weapons systems, missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to India in order to help the South Asian country protect its sovereignty. Recollecting that the 26/11 (November 26, 2008) terror attacks in western Indian city of Mumbai had claimed the lives of some Israeli citizens, the visiting president stressed: “India and Israel stand together defending our people.”
With India and Israel gearing up to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations, President Rivlin further said that his visit was a sign of the “strong relations and friendship between our peoples”. He expressed hope that the friendship between the two would “grow closer and closer”. Referring to growing collaboration between the two friendly nations (especially in the defence sector), he said that Israel was ready to “make in India and make with India”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Rivlin received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace). The Israeli leader also visited Raj Ghat to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
There are indications that Prime Minister Modi may visit Israel in 2017 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries. Although India had recognised Israel in 1950, the “full” diplomatic relationship between the two was established in 1992.