Israel and India hail growing defense ties as Rivlin visits
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Israel and India hail growing defense ties as Rivlin visits

In New Delhi, Modi welcomes security cooperation, calls for ‘more broad-based’ economic partnerships, joint efforts against terror

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hug each other after a joint media briefing in New Delhi on November 15, 2016. AFP/MONEY SHARMA)
President Reuven Rivlin, left, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hug each other after a joint media briefing in New Delhi on November 15, 2016. AFP/MONEY SHARMA)

President Reuven Rivlin and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hailed their countries’ increasing security cooperation and called to deepen their economic relationship, as Rivlin made a historic visit to the world’s second-most populous country this week.

Rivlin landed on Monday for a weeklong visit, intended to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations and underlining growing defense ties between Jerusalem and New Delhi.

“We noted the strength of our growing defense partnership and agreed on the need to make it more broad-based through production and manufacturing partnerships,” Modi said at a joint press conference in the Presidential Palace in New Delhi.

“President Rivlin and I deeply value our strong and growing partnership to secure our societies,” he said. “Our people are constantly threatened by forces of terrorism and extremism. We recognize that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organized crime.”

Posted by Israel in India on Monday, 14 November 2016

The international community must act “with resolve and determination against terror networks and states that harbor them,” Modi went on, without specifying which state he was referring to. “Failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists. We agreed to intensify our cooperation to combat the forces of extremism and radicalization that threaten all peace-loving nations.”

Rivlin said he shared India’s desire for peace and security, saying that nothing can justify terror.

“I have no doubt that my visit here will help the ties and the cooperation between our two peoples grow stronger: in security and our ability to keep our people safe, in agriculture, in water, in technology, in culture and education.”

Rivlin’s visit to India — the second-ever of an Israeli president — marks the 25th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Mr. Prime Minister, Israel and India have changed history before, and it is time we do it again,” Rivlin said. “You have called on the world to ‘Make in India.’ I am here to say: Israel is ready to answer this call. Israel is ready to Make in India, and Make with India.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Rivlin was welcomed by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at the Presidential Residence in New Delhi. Rivlin and his wife Nehama were greeted by horse guards who escorted their motorcade.

During his visit to New Delhi, President Reuven Rivlin sprinkles petals on the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi, November 15, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)
During his visit to New Delhi, President Reuven Rivlin sprinkles petals on the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi, November 15, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)

Last year Mukherjee became the first Indian president to visit Israel.

Rivlin on Tuesday also laid a wreath at and sprinkled petals on the tomb of the late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. Quoting Leviticus, Rivlin wrote in the presidential residence’s guest book “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This verse is a “fitting aphorism for all humanitarians in the world, and among them Gandhi himself,” he said.

“Israel and India have a firm alliance, between two peoples and two states with illustrious and greatly inspirational pasts,” he said.

During Rivlin’s visit, on which he is accompanied by a large delegation of Israeli businessman, the president will be joined by his Indian counterpart in opening an agro-tech conference in the city of Chandigarh.

Rivlin will also visit the sites of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which killed 195 people, including 162 Indians and 9 Israelis.

The president will also lay a wreath at the memorial for Indian soldiers who fell in the Middle East during World War I and meet with leaders of the local Jewish leaders.

Modi, in his remarks, called India’s present Jewish community “a thriving link” to its 2,000-year old past. “Today, it is a vital part of our composite cultural mosaic that continues to thrive in their traditions. We are proud of the Jewish community in India,” he said.

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