PM Modi breaks protocol, receives Benjamin Netanyahu at airport with a hug

Teen Murti Chowk in central Delhi was formally rechristened as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk on Sunday.

PM Modi breaks protocol, receives Benjamin Netanyahu at airport with a hug
Pic courtesy: PIB
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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday broke protocol to personally receive his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu at the airport as he arrived in the national capital to begin a six-day visit.

He welcomed Netanyahu with a hug upon his arrival. The Israeli PM is accompanied by his wife Sara.

PM Modi also tweeted in English and Hebrew, "Welcome to India, my friend PM Netanyahu. Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations."

On the other hand, the Israeli PM posted on the micro-blogging site, "Thank you to my good friend, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who surprised me with a personal welcome at the airport upon my arrival in India. Together we will bring the relations between our countries to new heights."

The two leaders then drove to central Delhi where Teen Murti Chowk was formally rechristened as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk in a ceremony attended by them.

PM Modi and Netanyahu also laid a wreath and signed the visitor's book at the memorial.

In the visitor's book, PM Modi wrote that he saluted the "great Indian traditions of selfless sacrifice and penance" of Indian soldiers, who laid down their lives during the liberation of the city of Haifa and the First World War. One of these pages was written 100 years ago, in the sacrifice of Indian soldiers at Haifa. The sacrifice commemorated at Teen Murti observes its centenary. Naming this spot as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk marks this historic occasion. In the presence of the prime minister of Israel, we pay homage to the brave soldiers."

Netanyahu's visit to India is only the second one by an Israeli PM and comes after a gap of 15 years. Former PM Ariel Sharon visited India in 2003.

(With PTI inputs)