Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is greeted with a hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon arrival in India, January 14, 2018 .
(photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unexpectedly met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he landed at New Delhi's airport on Sunday afternoon, a gesture of warmth that was not in the original schedule.
PM Netanyahu Receives Surprise Welcome in Delhi by Indian PM Modi (YouTube/IsraeliPM)
Modi, with whom Netanyahu has developed a close relationship, greeted Netanyahu with a warm hug, and then hoisted his arm into the air for the cameras.
After greeting Netanyahu at the airport, Modi tweeted the following Message in Hebrew: “Welcome to India, my friend Prime Minister Netanyahu. Your visit to India is historic and special. This visit will strengthen the close ties between our countries.”
Netanyahu was quick to respond in a tweet of his own in which he re-tweeted Modi's Hebrew greeting and added "Thank you my dear friend Modi for the warm and personal reception to India. I greatly value this moving gesture."
This is a reciprocal six day visit following the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Israel
during July 2017.
Modi will devote a good part of the next four days with Netanyahu, spending an amount of time with him that Indian sources said was rare for a visiting leader. The only day on the five day trip that the two will not be together at some point is on Thursday, when Netanyahu flies to Mumbai.
Immediately after landing, the two leaders went to a central square in the Indian capital where there is a memorial to Indian soldiers who took part in the battle to liberate Haifa from the Turks in 1918. The name of square, which until now has been known as Teen Murti Chowk, will now be called Teen Murti Chowk Haifa.
The memorial has three bronze statues representing the three cavalry regiments that took part in the fighting.
On September 23, 1918 – a day commemorated by the Indian Army as Haifa Day to commemorate the Indian soldiers who fell to liberate Haifa -- elements of the Indian Cavalry Units fought under the command of Gen. Edmund Allenby. The Indian mounted cavalry units captured Haifa, which was a fortified town, in a daylight cavalry charge.
During his visit to Israel in July, Modi paid a visit to the Indian military cemetery in Haifa.
This is Netanyahu's first ever visit to India. He is accompanied by his wife, Sara.
Before boarding, the flight, he was asked why his son Yair, was not joining him.
“My wife and I stand here as the mother and father of our son, Yair,” he said. “He is a young man who loves Israel with all his soul.”
Referring to the controversy surrounding the tape of his son's conversation with friends after leaving Tel Aviv strip clubs in the summer of 2015, Netanyahu said, “I want you to imagine how you would feel if they were to trample your children with unbridled cruelty, wickedness and hypocrisy. I say this not only to the media, I say it also to public figures who click their tongues in absurd hypocrisy.”
Netanyahu said he wanted to take the opportunity to thank those who have given “Yair and us a warm and humane hand in the face of the lack of humanity that we have seen. I want to tell them tonight how much we appreciate it, how much we thank them. I want to say something else - you give us a lot of strength to continue. "