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Israel and India Agree to Cooperate on Solar Power Needs, Resume Trade Pact Talks

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Karine Elharrar and Indian External Affairs MinisterSubrahmanyam Jaishankar at the signing ceremony for Israel’s accession to the International Solar Alliance. Photo: Avi Hayon / Israel Foreign Ministry

Israel and India are expected to sign a free-trade agreement by the middle of 2022 as the two countries mark the start of celebrations of 30 years of bilateral relations.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar announced the resumption of free trade talks during his visit to Israel, which began on Sunday. Negotiations are planned to commence in November.

“India is one of our most important, not only strategic partners but also a friend and an ally for many years, which is also bringing new opportunities for cooperation,” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

Jaishankar and Lapid discussed a range of regional and global issues and agreed to expand cooperation in the fields of water and agriculture, which have recently become an anchor in relations between the two countries. Additionally, the two agreed in principle on mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccination certifications.

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As part of the visit, Jaishankar also welcomed Israel as the newest member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Minister of Energy Karine Elharrar signed the agreement on Israel’s accession to the body, which will allow the Jewish state to contribute knowledge and experience on solar energy technology to the organization.

“You bring a lot of value to the table and we think this is very important to our growing agenda on green growth and green economy,” Jaishankar said.

The ISA, initiated by India and France in 2015, is a coalition of 86 solar-resource-rich states, formed to tackle special energy needs.

“I especially appreciate the opportunity to join the ISA, which enables to promote solar energy,” said Elharrar. “We are confident that this new partnership accelerates the State of Israel’s contribution to the global fight against the climate crisis and to a mutual solution for a greener future.”

“Only global action will succeed to restrain the climate crisis and protect the future of our children and our lives on this planet. Here in Israel, the government also acts in the fight against climate change and to reduce emissions. Promoting renewable energies requires innovation, creativity, and above all, international brokerage,” Elharrar added.

On Sunday night, Jaishankar met with business leaders and government officials to strengthen bilateral and regional economic ties.

“We discussed the possibilities in innovation, in digital green growth and health between our two economies,” Jaishankar stated. “I am very confident that our relationship as we approach its 30th year of operation will actually shift gears and go into a new phase.”

Jaishankar also “paid homage” to the victims of the Holocaust at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem.

“This memorial is a testimony to the human spirit of resilience and strengthens our resolve to fight evil,” he said.

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