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President Pranab Mukherjee arrives on a "milestone" visit to Israel

PTI 13 Oct 2015, 17:09:21 IST

Jerusalem: Marking a "political milestone" in the growing relationship between India and Israel, President Pranab Mukherjee arrived here today on a 3-day state visit, the first by an Indian Head of State.

Crossing over from Palestine after an overnight visit there, the Indian leader arrived in Israel where he has a packed schedule including an address tomorrow to Israel's parliament, Knesset, a rare honor for a visiting dignitary.

A banquet by President Reuven Rivlin and a lunch with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu besides conferment of an honorary degree by Hebrew University of Jerusalem are among the highlights of Mukherjee's schedule.

Describing Mukherjee's visit as a "historic political milestone", Rivlin told PTI that it reflected the continued strengthening of the relations between the two countries.

The visit would serve to deepen bilateral friendship in economic, scientific, medical, agricultural and other fields, the Israeli President said. A number of MoUs will be signed with Israel, including in the areas of renewable energy, double taxation avoidance, culture exchange programme and educational field.

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Mukherjee's discussions with the Israeli leadership are expected to cover subjects like terrorism and cooperation in various areas. MoUs in the fields of culture, education, science and technology will be signed.

"Israel has the expertise in dealing with many challenges of the 21st century which includes science, information and technology and counter terrorism and India has manpower," Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs Anil Wadhwa had told a media briefing in Delhi last week.

India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 and since then the relationship has evolved into a multi-dimensional partnership.

India and Israel are engaged in a range of issues of bilateral interest including cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, education and the visit will further cement bonds of cooperation between the two sides and enhance mutual understanding.