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Israeli PM arrives to Modi's warm hug on six-day India trip (Roundup)

IANS  |  New Delhi 

on Sunday set aside protocol to personally receive his Israeli counterpart and "friend" with a warm hug as he arrived here on a six-day visit to step up growing trade as well as military and strategic ties between the two countries.

As and his wife stepped on the red carpet at the airport here, a smiling embraced the Israeli and then shook hands with the couple.

"Welcome to India, my friend Netanyahu! Your visit to is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations," tweeted in English and Hebrew.

quickly responded. "Thank you to my good friend Modi for the warm welcome."

"Very much appreciate the gesture," the quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Modi and Netanyahu, who have developed a close friendship, exchanging greetings on on various occasions and hugging each other heartily, will hold talks on a range of issues on Monday after formally welcomes the Israeli at

The visit, which marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, comes six months after Modi became the first Indian to visit the Jewish state in July last year.

Before embarking on the flight to India, Netanyahu said his trip was intended to strengthen bilateral relations "even more".

"This visit is an opportunity to enhance cooperation with a global economic, security, technology and tourism power," he said. "Modi is a close friend of and of mine and I appreciate the fact that he will accompany me on extensive parts of my visit."

He said strengthening relationship between and "this important world power... helps us with security, the economy, trade, tourism and many other aspects".

The criticised Modi for what it called "hugplomacy". It posted a video hashtagged "hugplomacy" on its official handle, capturing a few "awkward" moments in Modi's meetings with world leaders including US Donald Trump, German Angela Merkel, Japanese and Turkish and also Netanyahu.

The condemned the meme video, alleging that the opposition party had "lost its sense and balance" which "does not behove a mature political party".

and senior BJP said: "Modiji's influence as world leader is increasing. Today only, a survey found him at No 3 in popularity as a world leader."

In a sign of growing importance to the ties with Israel, the on Sunday renamed Delhi's Teen Murti Chowk as Teen Murti-after the Israeli city.

Modi and Netanyahu laid a wreath at the iconic Teen Murti war memorial where they were received by and

The two leaders paid homage to Indian soldiers who fell in the battle of Haifa during World War I.

Netanyahu's entourage includes the largest-ever delegation of Israeli business people of some 130.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, these include senior executives of -- an Israeli currently under criminal investigation by the

At least nine commercial agreements are expected be signed during the visit. These include memoranda of understanding on gas and oil, renewable energy, aviation, industrial research and development, cybersecurity, reciprocal investments, supplementary medicine, space research and joint movie productions, said.

This is the first visit to by an Israeli Prime Minister since came in 2003.

On Monday morning, Netanyahu will lay a wreath at Rajghat to pay homage to On Tuesday, he will fly to to view the iconic

Netanyahu and Modi will open the Raisina Dialogue, India's annual geopolitical conference to be attended by people from around the world, including former US Wendy Sherman, in

Netanyahu and Modi will also visit the Indian Prime Minister's home state where they will go to the in Agriculture at Vadrad.

Netanyahu will interact with business leaders in and meet representatives of Bollywood. He will return to on Friday afternoon from

--IANS

sar/mr

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 21:10 IST
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