A warm welcome awaits Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu when the two visit the former's home state likely on January 17, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said today. The two leaders, who hit it off during Modi's visit to Israel in July last year, the first by an Indian prime minister since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1992, would visit two centres of excellence and inaugurate another such facility. They are also likely to visit the Sabarmati Ashram, the abode of Mahatma Gandhi for a long time, here, Rupani said. According to an Ahmedabad civic body official, a joint roadshow on an 8 km stretch from the city airport to the Sabarmati Ashram is also on the cards. Modi and Japanese premier Shinzo Abe had held a joint roadshow during the latter's visit here in September last year. The Indian premier had played a guide as he showed Abe and his wife around the Sabarmati Ashram. They had also spent some time at the Sabarmati Riverfront, developed during Modi's tenure as Gujarat chief minister. Modi had also accompanied Chinese President Xi Jinping and his spouse to the riverfront during the latter's India visit in 2014. "According to the tentative schedule, Modi and Netanyahu would first visit the Sabarmati Ashram on their arrival here on January 17.
Both the dignitaries will be accorded a grand welcome," Rupani told reporters. From the ashram, Modi and Netanyahu would go to 'iCreate', an autonomous centre of excellence near Bavla town close to the city, Rupani said. 'iCreate' was formally launched in 2011 by Modi when he was the chief minister. The institution mentors budding entrepreneurs and guides them to set up start-ups, according to an official. The two would then proceed for a Sabarkantha-based centre of excellence for agriculture. They will inaugurate a research facility for cultivation of dates in Kutch by remote control from Sabarkantha, the chief minister said. At the start of Modi's visit to Israel, the two leaders had repeatedly hugged each other and addressed each other as "friend" several times. Netanyahu had personally received Modi at Tel Avivs Ben Gurion airport, an honour previously accorded only to the Pope and the US President. India and Israel have deep defence and security ties, and Netanyahu's four-day visit beginning January 14 is likely to further strengthen them. The two sides are also likely to discuss ways to further enhance cooperation in high technology, agriculture, water management and trade.
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