India, Israel vow to enhance cooperation in combating terror

India and Israel have vowed to enhance cooperation in combating the menace of terror, with Tel Aviv terming "New Delhi`s security as important to it as its own".

Tel Aviv: India and Israel have vowed to enhance cooperation in combating the menace of terror, with Tel Aviv terming "New Delhi`s security as important to it as its own".

"Israel`s homeland security systems are very advanced and India can benefit from your experience. We are friendly countries and strategic partners based on sound fundamental principles. We have to cooperate to the fullest extent to combat the menace of terror," Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Jyotiraditya Scindia told business leaders here yesterday evening.

Israeli President Shimon Peres offered New Delhi his country`s complete cooperation in the fight against terror saying, "India`s security is as important to Israel as its own" during a one-to-one meeting with Scindia who yesterday left for Jordan following a three-day visit to the Jewish state.

The Indian minister thanked Israel`s timely help in fight against terror from time to time.

The two countries have a Joint Working Group against counter-terrorism that meets often to take stock of the situation in the two regions and to share strategies to counter-terrorist moves.

Describing the relationship between India and Israel as a `relationship between two souls`, Scindia said that it is based on shared morals and principles.

He also emphasised on the tremendous potential for bilateral trade between the two countries saying that while Israel`s potential is unmatched by many countries, India is a fast moving animal today.

"India is an idea whose time has come", Scindia said quoting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and stressing on the proactive role played by the government today.

His announcement that India`s Trade and Economic Relations Committee has approved to commence a Free Trade Agreement with Israel was greeted with huge applause by the Israeli business community.

"You do not go to a friend`s house empty handed and I am very glad to come with this present," the Commerce and Industry Minister said.

"It is a historic day indeed and will bring about a quantum jump in trade between the two countries," Director of International Trade at Israel`s Ministry for Trade, Industry and Labour, Boaz Hirsch, said welcoming the announcement on FTA.

Scindia emphasised on the two rich dividends India has of democracy and an overwhelming young population encouraging Israeli business leaders to engage with his country even further.

Indian Ambassador to Israel, Navtej Sarna, noted that "looking at the texture and bandwidth of the relationship between the two countries, nobody can say that it is only a 17-year-old relationship".

Bilateral trade between India and Israel has grown exponentially starting from a humble figure of USD 200 million in 1992 when the diplomatic relations were established and registering an impressive figure of USD 4 billion last year.

Israeli officials estimate that with FTA round the corner, a target of USD 12 billion in annual bilateral trade is achievable by 2015.