(NEW DELHI, LANKAPUVATH) –The strong bonding between PM Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu was in full display on Monday as the Israeli premier called Modi a “revolutionary leader” who had transformed India-Israel ties and the Indian PM reciprocated, promising big steps in cooperation in agriculture, science and defence.
“You are a revolutionary leader and you are revolutionising India. You are catapulting this magnificent state into the future. And you have revolutionised the relations between Israel and India,” Netanyahu said after talks with Modi. He even offered to do some yoga stretches with the Indian PM.
Etching out commonalities in their personas to emphasise convergence of Indian and Israeli interests, Modi said, “I have a reputation for being impatient to get results and so do you, PM Netanyahu. We will strengthen our cooperation in areas that affect the lives of our people — agriculture, science and technology and defence.”
The sentiment was iterated more concretely at the India-Israel business summit later in the day that saw the digital launch of the ‘I4Fund call for proposal website’ for joint research and development projects. “I welcome Israeli companies to come take advantage of the liberal FDI in India’s defence sector,” Modi said.
The catchy ‘know how to show how’ tag line of the India-Israel initiative is intended to fund affordable technological innovations in areas like water, agriculture, energy and digital technologies.
Hailing a new era of India-Israel cooperation, Netanyahu worked up the personal chemistry between the two leaders to say that he could even join Modi for some yoga. “Finally, this is perhaps the most important statement I can make here, my friend Narendra, any time you want to do a yoga class with me, it’s a big stretch but I will be there,” he said.
The relaxed atmosphere even showed up during the official lunch where Israeli officials apparently cheerfully hummed along with “Eechak dana” being played in the background.
The two leaders met for ‘restricted’ talks in the morning where defence, security and geo-politics were discussed. On Sunday evening, NSA Ajit Doval met his counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat as they discussed security, counter-terrorism and defence cooperation. Among the nine agreements signed on Monday was one that expands the scope of cyber security cooperation from businesses to governments, including India’s CERT institutions.
A joint statement issued after the talks spoke surprisingly briefly about terrorism, even though cooperation in this field is a big part of bilateral ties. Announcing the next meeting of the joint working group on homeland and public security in February, the statement said, “There can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever and advocated strong measures against terrorists, terror organisations, those who sponsor, encourage or finance terrorism or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups.”
Asked about the sparse language, Vijay Gokhale, the incoming foreign secretary who currently oversees economic relations, said, “We share similarity of approach on terrorism.” The new area, he said, would be the MoU on cyber security.