13:18 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Discreet India-Israel contacts have now blossomed into a full blown diplomatic tango. The President of Israel is on a six-day visit to reciprocate the first Indian Presidential visit to Tel Aviv last year. In between Indian PM Narendra Modi broke bread with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — India and Israel on Tuesday agreed to intensify their strategic ties in the defence sector and against terrorism. They also called on the international community to act tough against terror networks and states providing safe haven to terrorists. These phrases are India's reference to Pakistan.

    “We recognize that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organized crime,” said Modi while addressing a joint press briefing with visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

    India is hosting Rivlin for six-days on a visit that has brought bilateral ties into the open. No details were given but the symbolism of the President of Israel visiting India was significant. India has largely avoided hosting Israeli Ministers but Modi has ended that policy.

    In his address, Modi made it clear how India aims to leverage Israeli expertise in counterterrorism. “Regrettably, one of the countries of its origin and spread [terrorism] is in India's neighbourhood. 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.”

    The two leaders also noted the deepening defence ties and agreed to make it “more broad-based” through production and manufacturing partnerships.

    India is one of the largest buyers of Israeli military hardware but the transactions are deliberately kept away from the media unlike New Delhi’s defence deals with Russia, France and other western countries. In the past decade, Israel sold military supplies worth $12 billion to India.

    “India has a more discreet approach on mega-defence deals with Israel because of the need for Arab support on issues such as Kashmir,’’ explained Swaran Singh, professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

    “Arab support remains critical for India’s aspirations including permanent membership of the UN Security Council,” he explains.

    Both sides also inked pacts in non-defence areas such as agriculture and water resources management where Israel is considered a pioneer.
    Modi is tipped to visit Israel next year and President Rivlin’s visit is expected to prepare the groundwork for the first Indian Prime Ministerial visit to Israel.


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