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Krishna's visit to Israel marks new high in ties

world Updated: Jan 12, 2012 13:43 IST

External affairs minister SM Krishna's two-day visit to Israel marked a "new high" in bilateral ties when Israeli leaders bent standard procedures to extend gestures reserved for the closest of partners.

Many special measures were taken by the host country to make "the important guest feel the warmth in the relationship felt by Israelis", which included massive changes in schedules at the highest levels to accord the kind of hospitality due to a "special friend", political sources here said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "went out of the way" to arrange a breakfast meeting with Krishna, the first Indian Foreign Minister to visit Tel Aviv in over a decade, spending close to two hours with him and "surprised everyone" by coming all the way to down to see him off when his car left the PMO.

Host foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman waited outside for several minutes to personally receive and accompany his Indian counterpart to his office.

On top of all that the Israeli President reserved the most flattering of comments for India dubbing it the "greatest democracy on earth", and even backed its permanent membership in an extended UN Security Council, which may not necessarily be the official position of his country given "India's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause".

"For us India is first of all a culture. Then it is for us the greatest democracy on earth and then the unbelievable achievement of overcoming poverty without becoming poor in freedom," the Nobel laureate Israeli President said.

Expressing his admiration for India's founding father, Peres called Mahatma Gandhi a "prophet" and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru a "king".

"India was fortunate that it had two great and unforgettable leaders - one was a prophet and the other one was a king. The combination of Gandhi and Nehru is the most unusual," he noted.

Israel's octogenarian statesman has consistently backed India's membership at UNSC emphasising it during meetings with every single Indian delegation he has met since taking oath.

However, no visible display of any kind of disappointment at India's voting pattern at the UN could be seen during the two days of interaction between Krishna's delegation and Israeli leadership, something that political sources here described as "growing faith in each other as partners... and reaching new levels of maturity in relations".

This could be discerned also in responses by the two sides every time questions related to differences were raised.