India’s Modi upbeat about Israel ties as he ends historic visit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi visit the water desalination plant at Olga Beach, July 6, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi visit the water desalination plant at Olga Beach, July 6, 2017. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India ended a historic three-day visit to Israel by asserting that the “successful visit will add more energy to India-Israel relations.”

Modi and Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu spent most of the trip together, during which the two governments signed several economic and agricultural agreements. The two leaders sparked an Internet firestorm with photos of them walking barefoot in the Mediterranean Sea near Haifa, where they were given a demonstration of a mobile desalinization unit.

Also in Haifa, they visited the British military cemetery in which Indian soldiers from World War I are buried. The leaders laid flowers on the soldiers’ memorial and unveiled a plaque in memory of the Indian soldiers who fell in the battle to liberate Haifa.

On Wednesday night, Modi attended a special event in Tel Aviv that gathered about 10,000 Indians living in Israel. The program included several Bollywood dance performances and a concert.

There are about 80,000 Jews of Indian origin living in Israel, as well as thousands of students and workers.

Modi arrived in Israel on Tuesday afternoon on the first visit there by an Indian head of government. The visit comes 25 years after the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

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