SM Krishna to visit Israel, Palestine today



New Delhi: In a visit marked by immense significance, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will travel to Israel and Palestine on Sunday, the first by an Indian Foreign Minister in over a decade.

During the first leg of the visit, Krishna will be in Tel Aviv where he is expected to meet Israeli President Simon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu besides holding talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The two sides are expected to discuss ways to further bolster the bilateral ties across the spectrum, with focus on trade and economic aspects.

Anti-terror cooperation is also expected to figure prominently in the discussions, against the backdrop of growth in this aspect of the relationship since the Mumbai 2008 attacks in which six Israeli nationals were killed.

Of late, Israel has become India's second largest defence supplier after Russia.

Krishna’s visit to Israel assumes significance because the last such trip took place in July 2000 when the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh travelled there.

Bilateral trade and economic relations have progressed rapidly recently. From a mere USD 200 million in 1992, the bilateral trade was expected to reach a USD 5 billion by last year-end.

After his visit to Tel Aviv, Krishna will travel to Ramallah where he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

India was the first non-Arab country to recognise the statehood of Palestine in 1988 when it was declared.

PTI