Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warmly welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country saying, “Apka swagat hai mere dost. Welcome to Israel. We have been waiting for you for a long time”. Modi is the first Prime Minister of India to visit the Jewish nation in the 70 years of its existence.
Netanyahu received Modi at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport with a warm hug. “Prime Minister, we have been waiting for you for a long time. We have been waiting almost 70 years in fact. Because yours is truly historic visit. It is the first time an Indian Prime Minister is visiting Israel. We receive you with open arms. We love India, we admire your culture, your history, your democracy, your commitment to progress,” said Netanyahu.
Speaking at the airport, Modi said he was “honoured” to be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel, though the two nations had set up formal diplomatic relations 25 years ago. He said, “It is my singular honour to be the first-ever Prime Minister of India to undertake this ground-breaking visit to Israel.”
The friendship between the two countries is “natural”, Netanyahu said soon after Modi landed in Tel Aviv on a three-day visit. He said that in their first meeting three years ago, Modi had said ‘sky is the limit’ for India-Israel relationship.
Talking about Modi’s Make In India initiative, Netanyahu said, “In this visit, your Make in India initiative, meets my Make with India policy. We are setting up a $40 million innovation fund as the seed for even greater cooperation on technology between us.”
Modi called Netanyahu by his nickname Bibi and hailed the sacrifice of his elder brother Yonatan Netanyahu, a military officer who commanded the elite commando during Operation Entebbe to rescue hostages held in Uganda on July 4, 1976. The officer was killed during the operation.
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