Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
India displayed its Middle East juggling skills this week as the country’s foreign minister said in Cairo on Tuesday that India continued to support the Palestinian cause.
The statement came just days after an Indian naval warship docked in Haifa, in what New Delhi said was a sign of the “robust” ties between the two states.
In a speech to the Egyptian Council for Foreign Relations, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said Tuesday that “our strong traditional support to the Palestinian cause remains unwavering even as we pursue good relations with Israel.”
The Indian Express quoted her as telling the council that India has “strong interests in the Arab world and [has] been strongly committed to its various causes.
We have been supportive of your aspirations regarding the resolution of the Palestine- Israel issue.”
She is expected to visit Israel by the end of the year, as is Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, whose visit would be Israel’s first from an Indian president. Mukherjee is also expected to visit the Palestinian Authority and Jordan on that trip.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit in the first half of 2016 – also Israel’s first visit from an Indian prime minister.
Swaraj’s remarks in Cairo came after India broke with its traditional voting pattern in the UN and abstained on anti-Israel votes at the UN on two different occasions over the summer, rather than voting in favor of the anti-Israel measures as it has traditionally done in the past.
Last Wednesday, meanwhile, the Indian Ministry of Defense announced the Haifa docking of the INS Trikand – a “front-line warship of the Indian Navy” – and said the port call was aimed at “bolstering the robust ties between Israel and India.”
The statement said that “extensive engagements” with the Israel Navy were to take place during the port call. The last time an Indian warship docked in Haifa was in 2012.
The ship’s visit was part of the Indian Navy’s mission of building “bridges of friendship” and strengthening international cooperation with friendly countries, the statement said.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations in 1992, the communique continued, “bilateral interactions between India and Israel have seen rapid growth across a broad spectrum.
The bilateral relationship has thrived on the common principles of democracy, liberal outlook and similar strengths of the knowledge industry. Within this conducive environment of warmth [and] friendship, defense and agriculture have become the main pillars of bilateral engagements. India has acquired critical defense technologies from Israel, notable among them being the Barak-I missile system for the Indian Navy.”
Further underlining the cooperation between the two navies is OC Israel Navy R.-Adm. Ram Rutberg’s current three-day visit to India.