India confirms visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

File Photo: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with PM Narendra Modi. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 31, 2019, 02.04 PM (IST) Sidhant Sibal

India has confirmed the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next month.

The ministry of external affairs spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said, "We have agreed to receive the PM of Israel for short working visit to India".

The Israeli PM's visit comes a year after his maiden India visit in January  2018. Netanyahu has been touting better ties with India as a key foreign policy achievement in the year when the west Asian country goes to elections. 

In the first Israeli cabinet meet of  2019 Netanyahu spoke of his country's exports to India as a major success of  2018 and said, "Exports to India and Latin America have risen by 27 per cent. These are all new markets that we are opening. This has increased exports and the GNP brings money into state coffers, creates jobs and raises Israeli citizens' wages." 

Israel and India have seen a number of high-level visits in the last few years. Since 2015 a high-level visit has taken place between the two countries. 

Indian Prime Minister Modi visited Israel in July 2017, which was the first visit by an Indian PM to Israel. During the visit, India's relationship with Israel was upgraded to a strategic level. 

In  2015, the then President of India Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel followed by the visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in  2016.  

Trade between the two countries stood at US$ 5.02 billion (excluding defence) in  2016- 2017 with trade in diamonds constituting more than 53 per cent of bilateral trade. Defence is expected to be the key focus of the second visit of Netanyahu. New Delhi imports crucial defence technologies from that country. 

India has been focusing on its historical and cultural ties with the country too. During last years visit, the teen murti chowk in Delhi was renamed as Haifa Chowk in honour of the Indian soldiers who laid lives during world war 1 in the battle of Haifa, a city in present-day Israel. The battle marked the end of Ottoman control over the city.