In a bid to further boost goodwill and bilateral relation, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will pay a two-day official visit to Israel and Palestine from January 17-18. The Union minister will be accompanied by Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa and other officials from the Ministry of External Affairs ( MEA).
India’s External Affairs Minister’s maiden visit to Israel and comes following the the landmark trip of President Pranab Mukherjee to the two key West Asian nations three months ago.
Swaraj will first land in Palestine where she will hold talks with leadership of the country with an aim to boost bilateral engagement and deepen mutual understanding at the political level.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said the visit will also reaffirm India’s continued political, diplomatic and developmental support to Palestine. He added that the trip will further “deepen the mutual understanding at the political level and boost bilateral engagement with Palestine.”
Swaraj, after her engagement in Palestine, will leave for Israel on the same day, where she will hold discussions with the Israeli leadership and review the entire gamut of India-Israel relations, which is on an upswing.
Israel has been supplying India various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years but the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains.
President Pranab Mukherjee had visited Tel Aviv in October last year, becoming the first Indian Head of State to visit the Jewish nation. “India’s relations with Israel are part of its engagement with the broader West Asia region and are independent of its relations with any country in the region,” said Swarup.
As per the report, Ms Swaraj will have meetings with President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Minister of Defence Moshe Ya’alon, Minister of National Infrastructure Yuval Steinitz and Israeli legislators in Tel Aviv.
The Israeli Embassy, in a statement, said, “The visit is an important ingredient in the ever-growing relations, friendship and partnership between the two countries.”
Swaraj will also interact with the Indian community during her visit to the Jewish nation. “The visit will augment India’s bilateral relations with Israel and further strengthen the linkages between the two sides,” said the MEA Spokesperson.
“This is the first visit of External Affairs Minister to West Asia region and Palestine is the first destination in the region which in itself reflects the importance India holds for Palestine in its engagement with the countries of the region,” Swarup said.