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June 16, 2015 12:43 pm

Indian Columnist: Israel is India’s ‘Most Trusted Ally’ in the Middle East, Among Top Friends in the World

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israel is India’s most trusted Middle East ally, and one of its closest friends in the world, an Indian columnist wrote over the weekend in The Asian Age.

“Israel is India’s most trusted ally in West Asia and one dare say among the three or four closest friends India has anywhere in the world,” wrote Ashok Malik, in light of a recent announcement by the Indian External Affairs Ministry that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would become the first Indian premier to visit the Jewish state.

“It is not merely a key defense equipment supplier, but is willing to make serious investments in manufacture of military hardware in India, a prospect that has the potential to revolutionise India’s economy,” he wrote.

Additionally, Israel has helped India develop its agrotechnology, from dairy production to drip irrigation and horticulture across several Indian states. India and Israel share the Indo-Israel Agricultural Cooperation Project, which entered into its third phase this year, and Israeli experts in a variety of fields continue to work across Indian states, such as water-saving techniques in mostly arid Rajasthan.

Some critics of Modi’s visit to Israel argue that it must occur within the larger context of an outreach to the Arab-Muslim Middle East as well, with stops in the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Jordan, among others.

But Malik suggested that the Israel trip be considered a “standalone,” saying it would be “clumsy and discourteous to link a Modi visit to Israel to one to Muslim/Arab countries as well.”

“There is little to be gained by hyphenating an Indian Prime Minister’s first trip to Israel,” he said. “The India-Israel relationship is important enough, even sacred enough, to merit that respect.”

The exact dates for Modi’s trip have yet to be announced, and while some have said it could occur this fall, Malik said that Modi’s packed schedule might mean pushing off the visit to Israel until next year.

Israel and India have enjoyed diplomatic relations since 1992, and conservative Modi has pushed the relationship even further, including public endorsements of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The visit will mark the first for an Indian prime minister, but not for Modi himself, who visited the Jewish state when he was chief minister of Gujarat in 2006.

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