Deepening of ties in trade, defence on table during Netanyahu's India visit

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According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, which quoted Indian media, while the government (the Defence Ministry) has said no, the Indian military establishment remains keen on the purchase of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems going through.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will take 130 businessmen with him to India next week for trade talks which will also cover defence sales, a senior Israeli official said Wednesday.

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India's defence ministry announced last week that it would buy 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel.

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Netanyahu's January 14-19 visit to the country comes six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic trip to Israel previous year.

The reference was to the U.S., Russian Federation and India.

Carmon said a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is "on the agenda" but acknowledged that the two countries had different priorities despite the fact that there were so many "complementarities" between India and Israel.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have another road show from the airport in Ahmedabad next week, this one with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side in an open-top Gypsy decorated with flowers for the nine-km ride to Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati ashram. Israel already is a major weapons supplier to India, selling it an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year.

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The message that will be sent from this second visit to India by a sitting Israeli head of government-following the historic visit of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in September 2003-will be that the world's largest democracy and the Middle East's only democracy are more than trading partners, more than platforms for technology exchange, more than attractive tourist destinations for their respective populations.

It will also highlight the countries' shared interest to fight extremism with the prime minister's visit to Mumbai to commemorate the November 2008 attacks.

Ahead of Netanyahu's visit, Israeli bureaucrats and defence industry representatives have been holding strategy meetings on their approach to the Indian market ever since India made it known that it required them to set up manufacturing plants in the country for repeat orders.

He will also reach out to Bollywood in an exclusive "Shalom Bollywood" event, which is one of the itineraries.

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The Ambassador described innovation as a "cross-cutting issue" and said this would be reflected in the discussions between Modi and Netanyahu. The Israeli PM will call on President Ram Nath Kovind later in the day.

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