India, Israel vow to jointly confront terrorism

India and Israel on Tuesday vowed to upgrade their relations in all fields and work out a joint strategy to "checkmate" terrorism.

Last Updated: Jan 10, 2012, 23:29 PM IST

Jerusalem: India and Israel on Tuesday vowed to
upgrade their relations in all fields and work out a joint
strategy to "checkmate" terrorism, while deciding on a roadmap
to elevate cooperation in multiple areas like defence,
agriculture, trade and hi-tech over the next two decades.

Setting the ball rolling, Krishna, who is the first Indian
foreign minister to visit Israel in over a decade, called
Israel a "natural ally" in all frontiers of science during his
over one and half hour breakfast meeting with Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu today, a rare gesture accorded to only
dignitaries from countries sharing special relations with
Israel.

After his meeting with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor
Lieberman, Krishna termed his visit as "excellent and
productive".

"During our meeting we reviewed all areas of cooperation
in our bilateral relations - political, economic, scientific
and cultural," he said.
Krishna said India and Israel, who today signed two
treaties one on extradition and the other on transfer of
sentenced persons face the common problem of terrorism.

"So I think we will have to work out a strategy as to how
we address ourselves the scourge of international terrorism
which has become the curse for the entire humanity.

"I think are effort should be to checkmate it and
ultimately eradicate terror from the face of the earth,"
Krishna said.

The Minister, who held a series of meetings with top
Israeli leadership, including President Shimon Peres, during
his visit starting yesterday, said "India is also keen to have
Israel as a partner in several other sectors in which
innovation and cutting edge technologies are essential for our
continued growth".

These sectors include water management, bio-technology,
telecom, hi-tech industries, homeland security and several
others, he emphasized.

While the two sides discussed a number of bilateral and
regional issues, both Krishna and officials said the focus was
about setting the agenda for the next two decades.

"The principal focus was on future. How we should move
this relationship in future," External Affairs Ministry
spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told agency here.

Asked about where he sees relations with India going,
Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman said, "Our relations are
excellent. What we see is a very positive tendency. We enjoy
cooperation at many levels and I really hope that we would
accomplish in the next five years more growth in all fields,
including political level.
"We have had positive engagement during the first twenty
years and now want to further upgrade it".

Liberman added, "What is really the most important thing
is the determination and intention of both sides to deepen our
bilateral relations in all fields".

He said India has become one of the most popular
destinations for young Israeli generation and "of course
cooperation in the field of agriculture, water management and
homeland security has become more efficient".

Krishna pointed out that Indian economy provides immense
potential and opportunity for the application of Israeli
research as well as for Israeli investment.

Krishna said a Free Trade Agreement was presently under
negotiations and "we hope to finalise it soon".

"Several other innovative ideas of promoting financial and
technologic cooperation are also being explored. We are also
keen to further enhance tourism from Israel to India and to
intensify cultural exchanges and thus increase mutual
understanding and goodwill," he said.

Though diplomatic relations between Israel and India were
set up only 20 years back, both sides have seen a steep
increase in cooperation in all fields especially in trade and
defence.

The bilateral trade and economic relations have progressed
rapidly in recent years.

From a mere USD 200 million in 1992, the bilateral trade
with Israel was expected to reach a USD 5 billion by last
year-end. The figure does not include defence purchases.

Israel has also emerged as the second biggest defence
supplier to New Delhi after Russia.
From a buyer-seller relationship, both India and Israel
are now trying to branch out to joint research and development
initiatives.

"Both sides are looking at going beyond buyer-seller
relations. We are looking at joint investments not just in
production but also research, I-T and bio-technology," an
official source said giving an insight into the talks that
Krishna held with Israeli leadership.

Another area of discussion included energy as both the
countries are trying to cooperate in renewable energy as well
as wind energy. "The increasing idea is to do things
together," the source said.

Asked if increasing relations with Israel would affect
ties with certain other countries that are not at good terms
with Tel Aviv, a source said, "our relations with countries
are based on our bilateral interest. A relation with a country
does not affect our relations with any other country. We have
states positions on world issues".

PTI