NEW DELHI : After a quarter century of establishing diplomatic relations, India and Israel on Monday resolved to strive over the next 25 years to raise bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors to a qualitatively new level in consonance with their strategic partnership.
On the second day of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India, the summit level meetings which began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel in July last year have further cemented the bonds between the two governments and peoples and consolidated the strategic partnership.
A joint statement, issued after delegation level talks which were led by the two Prime Ministers, said both the leaders share a common vision for the relationship.
Both sides are working together on a Five Year Joint Work Plan for strategic cooperation in agriculture and water while agreeing to deepen cooperation in innovation, business and trade, space, homeland security and cyber, higher education and research, science and technology, tourism and culture.
The two prime ministers noted with satisfaction the implementation of India-Israel development cooperation – three-year work programme in Agriculture (2018-2020) under the stewardship of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MASHAV) and the Ministry of Agriculture of India aimed at increasing farmers’ productivity and optimization of water use efficiency.
They were apprised of state of progress on the 28 Centres of Excellence that are being jointly established in different States of India. Seven more Centres of Excellence have become operational in the last six months since the visit of Mr. Modi to Israel. The two Prime Ministers will be visiting Centre of Excellence in Vadrad, Gujarat and will inaugurate the Centre of Excellence in Bhuj, Gujarat, during this visit.
The two leaders welcomed the completion of all formalities for the launch of the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund that was announced during Mr. Modi’s visit to Israel.
They underscored the role of youth in enhancing future collaboration in innovation, and have decided to commence an annual exchange of visits of 100 youth from the science streams. The two respective Ministries of Science and Technology have decided to commence nine joint R&D projects in the areas of big data analytics in health care and security in cyber space.
Further, in order to build a strong network between the next generation of the best women scientists and technologists of the two countries, an India-Israel Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Symposium will be organized in October in India.
The two Prime Ministers also noted the intention of Indian public sector companies and Israeli companies to begin collaboration in the areas of metal air batteries for stationary energy storage systems and in solar thermal technologies, and urge industry on both sides to explore business collaboration in new energy technologies.
While welcoming India’s initiative to establish the International Solar Alliance to promote renewable energy for sustainable development in the context of climate change, Israel declared its willingness to become a partner country.
The two leaders urged the private sector to actively explore investment opportunities in both countries, including through the India’s flagship programmes such as Make in India, Start-Up India and Digital India. They also stressed on the importance of facilitating the movement of business persons through simplification of visa regulations, fast-tracking of visa applications, issuing of multiple entry visa, especially for the information technology and new technology sectors.
They also decided to expedite the conclusion of an Agreement on Maritime Transport that will encourage greater business between the shipping organizations of India and Israel, and create new opportunities in maritime services and training. They hoped that the agreement would also encourage wider cooperation in development of maritime business and Israel’s participation in the Sagarmala Project. Enhanced cooperation in the civil aviation sector is also on the cards.
An Indian Cultural Centre will open in Israel this year in pursuance of Mr. Modi’s desire to promote greater cultural understanding. Both sides have signed an MoU in Film Co-Production in recognition of the role that films play in promoting people-to-people contact, the joint statement said.
The two Prime Ministers agreed to holding Festivals of India and Israel in their respective countries in 2019 as a further step to solidify friendship between the peoples of both countries.
In another major decision, Israeli companies have expressed their readiness to enter into joint ventures with Indian companies in the defence 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 transfer of technology as well as joint research and development in defence and security fields.
Recognizing the grave threat that terrorism poses to peace and security including from non-state actors, Mr Modi and Mr Netanyahu 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.
They also noted with satisfaction that the next meeting of the Joint Working Groups on Homeland and Public Security will be held in February. They 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 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.