New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu met today in the first interaction between the premiers of the two countries in 11 years with the leader of the Jewish state saying that “sky is the limit” for bilateral relations.
The meeting took place at New York's Palace Hotel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly during which Modi and Netanyahu discussed a wide range of issues including defence cooperation and the situation created by the Islamic State (IS) in West Asia.
Both the leaders are staying at the Palace Hotel.
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. Modi had visited Israel in 2006.
The Spokesperson said Prime Minister Modi has taken note of the invitation and this would be discussed further through diplomatic channels.
He 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 defence deals, he said, “Yes there was a discussion in terms of defence ties and the Prime Minister explained that his new vision of ‘Make in India' was a priority.
“He also explained that right now in defence 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.”
The “sky is the limit” in Israeli-Indian relations, Netanyahu told Modi, the Jerusalem Post reported.
According to Netanyahu's office, the two leaders discussed Iran, the threat of terrorism, and possible cooperation in the fields of high-tech, cyber-security, water conservation and agriculture.
“We are two old people, some of the oldest civilizations on earth,” Netanyahu said. “But also two democracies, proud of our tradition, but also eager to seize the future. I believe that if we work together it will be for the benefit of both our peoples.”
During the meeting, Modi, who had met a Jewish group earlier, also mentioned that there was no discrimination against the community in India.
This is not the first year in more than a decade that both the Israeli and Indian prime ministers will be attending the UNGA at the same time.
But it is the first time they met.
In 2003, Ariel Sharon paid the first visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to India when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.