New Delhi: Extending his invitation to Narendra Modi to be first Indian prime minister to visit Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday said that both countries were being targeted by terrorists as they are upholders of freedom.
Rivlin arrived on Monday and held talks with Prime Minister Modi at Hyderabad House on Tuesday afternoon. This is first visit by an Israeli president in 20 years, and is a reciprocal gesture for President Pranab Mukherjee’s trip last year.
The Israeli president publicly asked Modi to visit Israel. “It will be our privilege to welcome you at Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” Rivlin said at the end of his media statement.
India, along with most countries, do not recognise Jerusalem as the capital, with their embassies situated in Tel Aviv. In fact, India’s position on the Israeli-Palestine issue has been that the two states have been situated harmoniously next to each other, with east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.
As per sources, no dates were discussed about Modi’s visit. But, Modi will certainly be visiting Israel next year to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations. The trip would, however, will not take place in the first quarter of 2017, sources added.
For both leaders, fighting terrorism was a priority during their discussions.
“India and Israel are being targeted as we are uphold freedom,” said Rivlin, who was elected the 10th president of Israel in 2014. “Terror is terror, is terror,” he affirmed, standing next to Modi in the Grand Ballroom of Hyderabad House.
Earlier, Modi also referred to the “strong and growing partnership to secure our societies”.
“We recognise that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organised crime. Regrettably, one of the countries of its origin and spread is in India’s neighbourhood,” he said, pointing fingers at Pakistan.
Both countries agreed that the international community should act against terrorism, because “failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists”.
“We agreed to intensify our cooperation to combat the forces of extremism and radicalisation that threaten all peace-loving nations. We also prioritised practical and specific engagement such as in the cyber domain,” he said.
Sources told The Wire that Modi talked about his de-radicalisation proposals, which include the World Sufi Forum and a joint project with the Malaysian government.
Israel is also one of the biggest defence suppliers to India. Modi asserted that both “agreed on the need to make it more broad-based through production and manufacturing partnerships”.
Modi also described promoting “people to people contacts” as a “shared priority”. “The growing number of Indian students, going to study in Israel and vice versa can be an important bridge in our bilateral partnership,” he said.
“The 2000-year old Jewish community in India represents a thriving link to this past. Today, it is a vital part of our composite cultural mosaic that continues to thrive in their traditions. We are proud of the Jewish community in India,” Modi added.
Rivlin will be travelling to Agra on Wednesday, where he will visit a water treatment plant and the Taj Mahal. He will also travel to Chandigarh and Mumbai.