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Israel keen to deepen ties with India: Akov


Vadodara: Companies from Israel are eager to invest in India and looking to make Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' campaign successful through increased co-operation, said Consul General David Akov here.

Akov and an Israeli team including Ricky Shay from Ashkelon city were there in Vadodara to sign a twin city pact with the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) here.

Talking to PTI after a 'Friends of Israel' event in the city yesterday, Akov said "Since Modi came to power in May last year, ties between Israel and India have been on an overdrive, with the two signing a series of defence and technology deals that have underscored their burgeoning commercial and political relationship.

After Modi's meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli Prime Minister during UN General Assembly meeting in New York in October last year, Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Israel and now Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to visit Israel later this year, Akov said, adding it shows that both Israel and India have some common interest for mutual cooperation.

The Modi-led government also cleared long-delayed purchase of Israeli missiles for its Navy. In October, India closed a deal to buy Israeli anti-tank missiles.

India is now the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment while Israel is India's largest customer after Russia. The roots of Israel relationship go back to 2006, when Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat and visited the region to explore new ideas in irrigation, an area of Israeli expertise. Now Israel is keen to further strengthen its ties with India, said Akov.

Israel team's visit to the city comes after Vadodara city mayor Shah went to Israel three months ago for discussing the twin city pact there.

Akov and his team from Ashkelon discussed the pact with Vadodara city Mayor Bharat Shah, Vadodara municipal commissioner Manish Bhardwaj, Hitendra Patel, Chairman of the standing committee of VMC and deliberated on a five-year cooperation between the two cities.

They discussed five key areas of collaboration including education, environment, emergency management, empowerment of women and exchange cultural programmes.

The historic city of Ashkelon has a population of 1,38,000. It also has an industrial base including one of the largest desalination plants in the world.