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Modi-Netanyahu bonhomie takes centre stage as India and Israel deepen innovation and security partnership

The Modi-Netanyahu bonhomie is on full display once again since Israel's longest-serving leader made a dramatic comeback to take over as the country's PM for a sixth time (File image courtesy: PIB)

As they spoke to each other over the phone for the second time in one month on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu expressed a “mutual desire” to deepen the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of high-tech, economy and security.

In their conversation, which lasted for about 20 minutes, the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen the close and important relations between New Delhi and Jerusalem.

“Spoke with PM Netanyahu and discussed ways to strengthen the multifaceted India-Israel friendship, deepen our focus on innovation partnership, and our ongoing cooperation in defence and security,” tweeted PM Modi after the phone call.

The Modi-Netanyahu bonhomie is on full display once again since Israel’s longest-serving leader made a dramatic comeback to take over as the country’s PM for a sixth time.

On January 11, PM Modi dialled ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu to convey his congratulations as both expressed satisfaction at the rapid progress in the India-Israel Strategic Partnership in recent years and agreed on the potential for further strengthening strategic cooperation in a variety of areas.

PM Modi, who has already invited Netanyahu to visit India at an early date, remains keen on India and Israel working together to bring out next-generation technologies and products.

In November 2021, both countries signed a Bilateral Innovation Agreement (BIA) between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel’s Directorate of Defence Research and Development (DDR&D) to promote innovation and accelerated R&D in startups and MSMEs of both countries for the development of dual-use technologies.

Under the agreement, startups and industry of both countries will work together to bring out next-generation technologies and products in the areas such as Drones, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum technology, Photonics, Biosensing, Brain-Machine Interface, Energy Storage, Wearable Devices, Natural Language Processing, etc.

At the same time, the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) fund between the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Israel Innovation Authority continues to promote, facilitate and support joint industrial R&D projects between companies from India and Israel to address the challenges in the agreed ‘focus sectors’.

Israel, a powerhouse in the world of remotely-manned tools, has also signed an agreement with India for the leasing, operation and maintenance of fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to the Indian defence forces.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Limited on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 at Gujarat’s Gandhinagar, last year.

Through the MoU, HAL and IAI will collaborate on a prospective programme of leasing UAV systems to the Indian defence forces.

IAI, which fully supports India’s vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, manufactures the famous Heron TP armed drones which have been acquired by the Indian Army to boost its surveillance operations, especially near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Taking forward PM Modi’s vision of Israeli defence companies benefitting from opportunities of co-development and co-production in India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had also exchanged a ‘Letter of Intent’ on enhancing cooperation in the field of Futuristic Defence Technologies with his visiting Israeli counterpart Benjamin Gantz in June, last year.

Also Read: Israeli PM lauds Modi as the ‘most popular person’ in his country