Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is reportedly slated to visit India on February 17 in the first state visit by an Israeli defense minister, as the countries seek to foster deeper security ties.
Ya’alon is expected to hold a number of high-level meetings with Indian officials and visit a large arms factory in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, Ynet reported.
News of the visit comes amid reports of renewed free trade agreement talks between Jerusalem and New Delhi, and overall closer ties between the Jewish state and the Asian giant. An Israeli government delegation headed by Economy Ministry director Amit Lang will visit India a week before Ya’alon on February 9 to discuss economic ties, the Times of India reported earlier this week.
In October, India reportedly agreed to a $525 million deal to buy Israel’s guided Spike missiles, which were widely used during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
According to Ynet, Israel regards Ya’alon’s visit as a groundbreaking moment in the security relationship between the two states and have accorded it great significance.
Ya’alon’s trip to India will not only strengthen ties, but will likely result in arms deals worth billions of dollars, the news site reported.
In November, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Israel, in the highest-level official trip ever for Delhi.
“Israel and India are at the cusp of a new era of increased cooperation in a wide variety of fields,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said while meeting Singh on November 6.
In September, Netanyahu met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss nuclear developments in Iran and expanding bilateral ties between Jerusalem and Delhi.
The meeting was the first between the Israeli and Indian premiers in over a decade, according to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.