(January 17, 2018 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off his state visit to India on Sunday with a warm embrace from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who unexpectedly met the Israeli leader when he landed at New Delhi’s airport on Sunday afternoon.
“Welcome to India, my friend Prime Minister Netanyahu. Your visit to India is historic and special. This visit will strengthen the close ties between our countries,” Modi tweeted in Hebrew.
Netanyahu quickly returned the favor, tweeting, “Thank you my dear friend Modi for the warm and personal reception to India. I greatly value this moving gesture.”
The warm exchange by the two leaders comes several months after Modi made a historic visit to Israel, where Netanyahu personally escorted the Indian leader throughout the Jewish state and signed several bilateral agreements.
Netanyahu’s five-day state visit to India, the first by an Israeli prime minister since Ariel Sharon in 2003, will seek to deepen ties between the burgeoning allies. High on Netanyahu’s list of priorities is to expand business ties with India, as he is being accompanied by a 130-member trade delegation, the largest-ever visiting group of its kind headed by an Israeli leader.
On the first day of his trip, Netanyahu met with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj about growing these ties.
“We are here in India on a historic visit. It is important for the State of Israel that one of the world’s major powers wants to develop close relations in many areas—economics, trade, security and agriculture,” Netanyahu said.
Israel and India are expected to sign a series of bilateral deals during Netanyahu’s stay.