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Israeli Foreign Minister's first call abroad is to India; vows to strengthen ties


Press Trust of India  |  Jerusalem 

Israel's newly appointed Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday called External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in what is his first phone call abroad after taking charge, a day after the two leaders vowed to work together to strengthen and expand the multi-faceted bilateral relationship for a mutually beneficial partnership.

It was a "general courtesy" call by the new Israeli foreign minister with emphasis on "resuming high-level visits and further strengthening of our bilateral strategic partnership. And taking forward our cooperation in the wake of this pandemic", sources here said.

"Thank FM @Gabi_Ashkenazi of #Israel for the call. Discussed strengthening our special relationship. Good to hear your warm sentiments about India. Look forward to meeting you in person," Jaishankar tweeted minutes after the call.

Israel's new government was sworn in on Sunday under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, bringing an end to the longest political deadlock in the country's history which saw a caretaker government in charge for over 500 days and three back-to-back general elections with no clear verdict.

Ashkenazi formally took charge on Monday at a ceremony at the ministry.

Jaishankar on Monday congratulated his newly-appointed Israeli counterpart Ashkenazi, a former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces.

"Mazal Tov @Gabi_Ashkenazi on assuming the post of Israeli Foreign Minister. I look forward to working with you to strengthen our multi-faceted and mutually beneficial partnership", Jaishankar tweeted in Hebrew.

Ashkenazi thanked Jaishanker and stressed on strengthening ties in diverse fields between the two countries.

"Thank you @DrSJaishankar. I am also looking forward to working with you to strengthen and expand the strong relations between Israel and India in multiple fields", the Israeli foreign minister tweeted in Hindi and English on Monday.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first few world leaders to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday on forming the government for a record fifth time, soon after the Knesset approved the new government.

"Mazal Tov (congratulations) my friend @netanyahu for forming your fifth government in Israel," Modi wrote on Twitter in Hebrew and English.

"Thank you my dear friend the Prime Minister of India! We will continue to strengthen the important relationship between us," Netanyahu responded in Hebrew on Sunday.

Netanyahu, 70, and his rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz joined hands to form a coalition government under a power-sharing agreement that would see the latter taking over the premiership on November 17, 2021.

The new government, which according to the coalition agreement, will see Gantz replace Netanyahu as the Prime Minister after 18 months.

Gantz will serve as Defense Minister until he is scheduled to take over as the Prime Minister in November next year. He will till then have the title of ''Alternate Prime Minister'', something that Netanyahu will take over from him after exchanging the baton.

The beleaguered Israeli prime minister, who surpassed Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's record of the longest-serving Premier in the country's history last year in July, managed to hold on to his right-wing bloc amid three inconclusive polls to force his main rival Gantz to finally succumb to the demand of a broad national unity government.

Gantz campaigned on replacing Netanyahu due to the prime minister's indictment on graft charges, but dropped his opposition to sitting in a government with him after the latest elections again ended with no clear winner, citing the coronavirus pandemic and a desire to avoid a fourth round of voting.

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

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First Published: Tue, May 19 2020. 21:19 IST