Indian PM meets Israel leaders in Jerusalem, hails ties


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in West Jerusalem on the second day of a landmark three-day visit to Israel.

"Israel is a real friend to India. I feel absolutely at home here," Modi was quoted as saying during the meeting.

"In the real world, what we see today is 'I for I' and 'I with I'. And when I say 'I for I', I don't mean the popular saying. What I mean is, 'India with Israel' and 'India for Israel'," he added.

Rivlin, for his part, warmly welcomed Modi, calling him "one of the greatest leaders of a democracy in the world at this time".

Addressing the Indian PM, he added: "We appreciate very much your visit to Israel."

"It has only been eight months since I visited your country," the Israeli president continued. "I can never forget our visit because we found a really strong nation, with strong ideas and strong wishes."

Modi arrived in Israel on Tuesday evening, making him the first-ever Indian prime minister to visit the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

Speaking at a welcoming ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised his Indian counterpart, saying: "We were waiting for this visit for many years."

"This is a historical visit; the first by an Indian prime minister to Israel," Netanyahu added.

"We welcome you with open arms. We love India. We admire your culture, we admire your history, your democracy, your commitment to progress," the Israeli PM asserted.

He went on to call for stepped-up cooperation between the two countries.

"We can do a lot together," he said. "When it comes to Israel-India relations, the sky is the limit."

Modi, for his part, declared: "It is a special honor for me to be the first Indian prime minister ever to visit Israel."

He went on to say that he planned to discuss "several issues" with "my friend" PM Netanyahu.

"We are cooperating to protect our societies from threats such as terrorism," he added. "My visit is the beginning of our partnership with Israel."

During his historic visit, Modi is expected to meet with a host of other high-level Israeli political figures, including opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog.

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