Indian Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh, flies to Israel on Friday for a five-day visit which will focus on improving trade and technical collaboration ties, a foreign ministry official said.
During the June 30th-July 3rd official visit, Singh will pursue with Israel an enhanced dialogue on economic and strategic issues of mutual interest, a foreign ministry official Rakesh Kumar told reporters in New Delhi Tuesday.
Singh's visit comes close on the heels of a four-day visit by Indian Home Minister, L.K. Advani, to Israel which ended on Sunday and focused heavily on the issue of cross-border terrorism.
Advani reiterated that the issue of expanding nuclear cooperation with Israel was not raised during his discussions.
India's foreign ministry played down the fact that two of India's senior most ministers were making visits to Israel in such swift succession.
"The Foreign Minister was supposed to visit Israel in January but had to postpone the visit to June. Ties between Israel and India have always been warm and Singh will continue the political dialogue," said Kumar.
Indo-Israeli political relations deteriorated in the early seventies with the worsening of the Arab-Israeli dispute after the 1967 war.
By 1992, India and Israel established embassies in each other’s countries. India opened its embassy in Tel Aviv on 15 May 1992.
Trade between India and Israel increased by a record 46 percent in 1999 over 1998 to reach 994.4 million dollars.
"In this fiscal year 2000-2001, we have set a target of 1.2 billion dollars for bilateral trade," said Kumar.
"Israel emerged as the seventh largest investor in India during the period between 1992 to 1997. Both the countries have signed 164 joint venture agreements in the areas of agriculture and electronics," Kumar added – NEW DELHI (AFP)
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