Netanyahu in India: With FDI pitch, PM Modi asks Israeli defence firms to Make in India

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New Delhi: With Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 15 invited Israeli defense companies to take advantage of the liberalized FDI regime and participate in “Make in India” with Indian companies.
The two countries signed nine pacts to boost cooperation in key areas including cyber-security and after talks, the two Prime Ministers underscored the grave threat terrorism posed and agreed to hold the next meeting of the Joint Working Group on Homeland and Public Security next month.
The issue of India voting against Israel at the UN on the Jerusalem issue also figured in the talks in which Indian officials maintained that both sides put forth their views and that the two leaders agreed that ties “are not determined by a single issue”.
Describing their talks as “wide-ranging and intensive”, Modi said they reviewed the progress in the bilateral relations and agreed that “the possibilities and the opportunities” that beckon the two countries need to be seized. “We will strengthen the existing pillars of cooperation in areas that touch the lives of our peoples. These are agriculture, science and technology, and security…In defense, I have invited Israeli companies to take advantage of the liberalized FDI regime to make more in India with our companies,” Modi said.
Netanyahu described Modi as a “revolutionary” leader. “You are a revolutionary leader and you are revolutionizing India. You are catapulting this magnificent state into the future. And you have revolutionized the relations between Israel and India,” Netanyahu told Modi.
Stressing that their discussions were marked by the desire to do more, Modi said, “Prime Minister, I have a reputation of being impatient in getting results. If I may let out an open secret, I know that so are you.” He said last year in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu had expressed the intent to cut down bureaucratic red tape with a machete and forge ahead with speed. “I am happy to tell you that in India, we are well on our way to doing just that. We have imparted our shared impatience to the implementation of our earlier decisions,” he said.
According to the joint statement, both Prime Ministers noted that Israeli companies were ready to enter joint ventures with Indian companies in the defense sector under the Make in India initiative. They consider it important to set the direction for developing more business models and partnerships for the joint ventures and joint manufacturing, including the transfer of technology as well as joint research and development in defense and security fields.
On the Palestine issue, the statement said that the two Prime Ministers discussed the developments pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. “They reaffirmed their support for an early resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians for arriving at a comprehensive negotiated solution on all outstanding issues, based on mutual recognition and effective security arrangements, for establishing a just and durable peace in the region,” it said, without any specific reference to the status of East Jerusalem. India had last month joined 127 other countries to vote in the UN in favor of a resolution opposing the recent decision of the US to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
According to the joint statement, “They call on the Defense Ministries to hold discussions in 2018 with the active involvement of the public and private sectors, in order to create the basis for viable, sustainable and long-term cooperation in the defense industry.” The joint statement also said that terrorism posed a grave threat to peace and security including from non-state actors, and the two leaders reiterated that there can be “no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever and advocated strong measures against terrorists, terror organizations, those who sponsor, encourage or finance terrorism or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups”.
Apart from noting that the next meeting of the Joint Working Groups on Homeland and Public Security will be held in February 2018, the two countries reiterated the importance of building comprehensive cooperation in counter-terrorism, including cyber-space, and welcomed the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in Cyber Security between India and Israel.
On whether the multi-million Israeli missile Spike deal figured in the talks, Vijay Gokhale, Secretary (Economic Relations), avoided specifics and said defense and security cooperation was discussed. Apart from a pact on cyber-security, the two sides signed agreements which included cooperation in the oil and gas sector, film-co- production as well as amendments to an air transport pact.

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