India's Modi Surprises Netanyahu at Airport Upon Arrival for Six-day Visit

Netanyahu leading a delegation of some 130 Israeli businesspeople to mark 25th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations

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Modi greets Netanyahu today in Delhi
Modi greets Netanyahu today in DelhiCredit: ADNAN ABIDI/REUTERS
Noa Landau
Noa Landau
New Delhi

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in India on Sunday for a six-day visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised Netanyahu when he arrived at the airport to greet him.

>> Netanyahu's six-day visit to India: Here's the full itinerary

The visit is expected to focus on business ties between the two countries. Netanyahu will be accompanied by around 130 Israeli businesspeople representing some 100 companies in the cybersecurity, military, water, energy, agriculture, health and food industries.

The businesspeople include senior executives of Aeronautics Defense Systems, an Israeli drone maker which is currently under criminal investigation. According to media reports, Aeronautics is suspected of having operated a suicide drone in Azerbaijan against a manned Armenian army position.

"Welcome to India, my friend PM @netanyahu! Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations," Modi tweeted.

The trip reciprocates Modis visit to Israel about six months ago.

After his arrival, Netanyahu attended a dedication of a square in New Delhi named after the city of Haifa. Later Sunday he is slated to visit a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian movement for independence from Britain.

He met with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Sawarj on Sunday afternoon, calling his visit "a great honor" and saying that there is "great enthusiasm, not just between the governments and leadership [of the two countries], but also between the people." Netanyahu thanked Sawarj for receiving him, and said he "looks forward to discussions regarding continued strengthening of the relationship" between Israel and India, specifically with regards to the economy, trade, security, agriculture, and many other fields. Sawarj responded, saying that "the feeling is mutual," and that they too have been "very much looking forward to recieving [Netanyahu] in India."

The Israeli prime minister further addressed Israel's attack on a Hamas tunnel on the Gaza border on Saturday night, saying he is thinking of IDF soldiers, and "the wonderful job you did yesterday in destroying another tunnel."

Netanyahu will dine with Modi in the evening.

During his trip, Netanyahu is scheduled also visit the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat, where Gandhi lived for 12 years. He will attend a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, whose targets included the Taj Mahal Hotel and the local Chabad house. After the ceremony, Netanyahu will meet with leaders of the Indian Jewish community.

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