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Jaishankar starts Israel tour with an aim to cement bilateral ties

INTERNATIONAL DESK: Indian External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Sunday started a three-day Israel visit with a day-long halt in Dubai to hold discussions with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leadership over a host of issues.

Jaishankar will then fly to Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel, and meet prime minister Naftali Bennet, foreign minister and alternate prime minister Yair Lapid, and other members of the new coalition government in a bid to cement the diplomatic ties between India and Israel that begun to take shape in the Benjamin Netanyahu era.

This time, Jaishankar is visiting Israel at the official invitation of Lapid, who is the head of the centrist Yesh Atid party and is also slated to take over the role of the premier from Bennett in 2023 under the agreement that led to the formation of the coalition government.

This is Jaishankar’s first visit to Israel since he took charge of his office in 2019. Notably, the Narendra Modi government always maintained a close relationship with the Netanyahu regime, with both the premiers touring each other’s countries in highly televised visits and signing key defence deals and military agreements. The ties also expanded into a “knowledge-based partnership”, with collaboration in innovation and research and boosting the “Make in India” initiative.

According to analysts, Jaishankar’s latest visit is aimed at cementing the groundwork in bilateral ties laid earlier and an opportunity for New Delhi to take forward further relations with the new dispensation in Israel, which assumed power after months of political turmoil during which the country witnessed as many as five elections in just two years.

During his three-day visit to the West Asian country, Jaishankar will hold talks with his Israeli counterpart Lapid and also meet prime minister Bennet, president Isaac Herzog and Knesset speaker Mickey Levy.

Jaishankar will also interact with the Indian-origin Jewish community in Israel, Indologists, Indian students in Israeli universities, and business people, including representatives of hi-tech industries. The visit will also be an occasion to pay tribute to Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the region, especially during World War 1, said the ministry of external affairs. (Hindustan Times)