New Delhi: External affairs minister S. Jaishankar held talks on Monday on a wide range of regional and global issues with Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid during his ongoing five-day visit to the Jewish state, after which both nations also announced their “in principle mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccination certification”. The minister also welcomed Israel as the newest member so far of the International Solar Alliance.
India and Israel also agreed to resume talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) for which negotiations are expected to begin next month and are likely to conclude by June next year.
The latest developments in Afghanistan and Iran’s importance to India as a partner are also expected to have been discussed. Israel and Iran are major foes, while India and Israel are close defence partners, with Israel having supplied billions of dollars of state-of-the-art defence weaponry, equipment and platforms to India in the past two decades. Israel also has excellent ties with the United Arab Emirates, with whom New Delhi is also very close. All three nations are also close strategic partners of the United States.
The five-day Israel visit that began on Sunday has given Mr Jaishankar the opportunity to engage with the new Israeli leadership after the government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assumed office a few months ago after several years of rule by Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid, with whom Mr Jaishankar held talks on Monday, is also the “Alternate PM” of the Jewish state.
“Welcomed Israel as the newest member of @isolaralliance. Very productive talks today with APM and FM @YairLapid. Discussed a wide range of regional and global issues. Agreed to resume FTA negotiations next month. Agreed in principle on mutual recognition of Covid vaccination certification,” Mr Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.
“Paid homage to the victims of the Holocaust at @yadvashem. This memorial is a testimony to the human spirit of resilience and strengthens our resolve to fight evil,” the minister also tweeted. “Very pleased to meet the Indian Jewish community in Israel. Valued their manifold contribution to India-Israel ties. Confident that they will bring us even closer together in the coming years,” he added.