Asserting that the economic relationship is the key to developing Indo-Israel ties, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday asked the Jewish state to look beyond trade for building ‘long-term stakes’ in the Indian economy.
Swaraj, in her address at an Indian community reception in Jerusalem, said India and Israel are expanding cooperation to new areas such as homeland security, innovation, education and science and technology.
Expressing optimism for the future in the growth of bilateral ties, Swaraj said, “To quote your (Israeli) prime minister, sky is the limit for ties between India and Israel.”
"We should work towards a new vision of our important partnership, which should reflect our close friendship and harness fully the potential of our two knowledge economies," Swaraj said.
Swaraj, who is on her first visit to the West Asian region as the external minister, earlier in the day held talks with the top Israeli leadership and discussed a wide-range of bilateral and regional issues.
"The economic relationship is the key to developing our bilateral ties. We should move from a trade-based relationship to one that is based on investment, manufacturing and services," Swaraj said in her address.
"As you know, 'Make in India' is a priority of our government. Our flagship schemes of 'Clean Ganga', 'SmartCities' and 'Digital India' are all areas of Israeli expertise. We encourage you to look beyond trade to build long-term stakes in the Indian economy through investment and joint development of products and services," she said.
The minister said she had ‘very good’ meetings with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders on Monday.
"All of them expressed to me the importance they attach to Israel’s relations with India, as a friend and partner. I wish to assure you that these feelings are reciprocated by the government and the people of India. We attach high priority to India’s relations with Israel," she said.
Swaraj noted that the bilateral interactions at the political level are also increasing. In this context, she highlighted President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Israel last year.
"This first ever visit by the President of India gave a substantial boost to our bilateral relationship. Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the full establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries," she said.
"I am very happy to be here in Israel. I served as the chairman of the India-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group for three years during which I also had the pleasure of visiting Israel. I am a personal advocate of strong ties between India and Israel; so I am very happy to see that our relations are progressing so well in all fields of our engagement," she said.
Earlier, the two countries agreed to intensify coordination to deal with terrorism as Swaraj met top Israeli leadership and discussed a wide-range of bilateral and regional issues.
Image: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Monday. Photograph: @MEAIndia/Twitter