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Israel PM Netanyahu to visit India next month for talks with Narendra Modi

The visit comes two months ahead of elections in Israel, people familiar with the developments said on Wednesday. The sources said dates for the visit were still being finalised, though reports from Israel said Netanyahu is expected to be in New Delhi on February 11.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2019 21:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Netanyahu,Narendra Modi,Israel
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to visit India next month for talks with his counterpart Narendra Modi.(AFP/File Photo)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to visit India next month for talks with his counterpart Narendra Modi. The visit comes two months ahead of elections in Israel, people familiar with the developments said on Wednesday.

The sources said dates for the visit were still being finalised, though reports from Israel said Netanyahu is expected to be in New Delhi on February 11.

This will be Netanyahu’s second visit to India in a little more than a year. He last came here in January last year, when the two sides were marking 25 years of diplomatic ties. Modi became the first Indian premier to visit Israel in 2017, when bilateral relations were upgraded to a strategic partnership.

The visit comes at a time when Netanyahu is facing intense scrutiny in Israel over a case of alleged corruption. Israeli media reports said that police suspect the premier and his wife influenced regulatory decisions to benefit a telecommunications firm.

Khinvraj Jangid, assistant professor at the Jindal Centre for Israel Studies, said Netanyahu is going into Israel’s April 9 elections with his foreign policy successes.

“He is showcasing things such as the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s role in getting the US to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and his personal chemistry with Modi,” he said.

Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat visited India this month and met his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and Modi. Netanyahu and Modi spoke on phone while Ben-Shabbat was in New Delhi.

Ben-Shabbat also discussed promoting security deals, an official statement said. The two sides agreed on measures to advance security, technological and economic cooperation during the visit.

Reports from Israel suggested that a defence deal could be finalised during Netanyahu’s visit though there was no official word on this from both sides.

There has been speculation that India is set to conclude a follow-on order for 15 Harop attack drones, which can carry 23 kg of explosives and can be used to destroy high-value targets.

The Indian Air Force operates Harop drones acquired under a deal inked in 2009 and state-run Israel Aerospace Industries is the main supplier of drones to India’s military, including Searcher and Heron drones.

First Published: Jan 30, 2019 21:13 IST