Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come to India on a six-day trip on Sunday. He will visit the country along with 130 businessmen for trade talks which will also cover defence sales, a senior Israeli official said on Wednesday.
Israel’s foreign ministry deputy director general for Asia, Gilad Cohen, said the trip was meant to further deepen political, trade and cultural ties. The Centre announced last week that it would buy 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel. The Barak missiles made by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems are to be used for India’s first aircraft carrier which is under construction.
But at the same time, Rafael said India had cancelled a separate $500-million deal to purchase Spike anti-tank guided missiles. “Rafael has received an official statement from the Indian ministry of defence on the cancellation of the Spike missile deal,” the company told the Jerusalem Post newspaper last week.
“The prime minister will be talking (to his hosts) on the whole range of issues which make up relations between Israel and India: water, agriculture, energy, culture, innovation, also defence,” he said.
“I do not want to elaborate on defence issues.” Israel is a major weapons supplier to the country, selling it an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year.
In April last year, the two countries signed a military deal worth nearly $2 billion which includes the supply over several years of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology.
Mr Netanyahu’s trip to the country comes after PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister.
A media highlight of that visit was a barefoot stroll though the surf together at an Israeli beach, where PM Modi got a demonstration of a mobile water desalination unit mounted on a dune buggy. Mr