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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Labor, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai arrived in India Monday on a four-day visit during which he is set to hold talks with Indian leaders to enhance trade and economic ties with Israel, officials said.
Yishai began his tour in Mumbai, India's commercial hub, where he met with business leaders at a meeting organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
The Shas leader is leading a delegation that consists of 50 entrepreneurs from such fields as information technology, logistics, irrigation, infrastructure, agro-technology, defense and security.
"He will hold talks with India's Trade Minister Kamal Nath in New Delhi on Tuesday," an Israeli embassy official said in New Delhi.
"During the visit, the minister will propose to his counterpart further practical steps to enhance bilateral ties between the two sides," the official added.
Yishai's trip is a "follow-up meeting"; Nath visited Israel last year, during which a joint study group was established to more than double bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2008.
Before embarking on the visit, Yishai told India's PTI news agency that Israel was considering a free trade agreement with India to achieve the trade target.
Indian-Israeli trade - primarily in diamonds, machinery, chemicals, rubber and plastic - grew from $200 million in 1992 to $2.4 billion in 2005.
Yishai is also due to meet Indian Science and Industry Minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday.
After his meetings in New Delhi, Yishai is scheduled to visit the Vadodara city in Gujarat, one of India's most financially vibrant states.
India, which has traditional ties with the Arab world and has supported the Palestinian cause for decades, established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992.
Although political and economic ties have grown steadily with a number of high-level visits since then, New Delhi has said such ties do not "dilute" its support for the Palestinian people.
Defense ties between the two countries have also boomed as Israel has emerged as India's largest defense supplier after Russia, notching sales worth $900 million annually.
DPA contributed to this report.
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