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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 2, 2017. .(Photo by: REUTERS/VALERY SHARIFULIN/TASS/HOST PHOTO AGENCY/POOL)
India's Modi looks beyond defense ties on eve of historic Israel visit
Indian PM expected to meet Moshe Holtzberg, now 10, rescued by Indian nanny from 2008 Mumbai terror attack on Chabad House
India's ties with Israel are “special,” India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an email sent Monday to Israelis who subscribe to his newsletter, saying that his visit will “lead to further cementing” the ties between the two countries.

“There is lots the world can learn from Israel,” he wrote. “Some of the focus areas during my visit are agriculture, disaster management, economic ties and people-to-people relations.”

Interestingly, the one area he did not mention was defense ties, which for many years was the key pillar in Israel-India ties. Both Israeli and Indian diplomatic officials have said that this visit, however, will not focus on that part of the relationship, but rather on enhancing cooperation in the areas Modi spelled out.

As you are aware, I would be embarking on a historic visit to Israel, starting Tuesday, 4th July,” Modi wrote. “My visit comes at a special moment- we mark 25 years of the establishment of relations between India and Israel this year.”

Modi said that during his visit “I will be meeting my friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu ,” as well as with President Reuven Rivlin.

He said that soon after landing he will visit the Danziger Flower Farm in Moshav Mishmar Hashiva,  “to learn about latest innovations and advancements in floriculture.” He also said he will visit Yad Vashem, “as a remembrance to those brave women and men who sacrificed their lives for values of peace and humanity.”

In addition, he said he will lay a wreath in Haifa at the cemetery of Indian Soldiers who fought and died in World War I, and will address people of Indian origin at a community event in Tel Aviv.

During his visit he is also expected to meet with 10-year-old Moshe Holtzberg whose parents, Rivka and Gavriel Holtzberg, were killed in the 2008 terror attack at the Chabad House in Mumbai. Modi is also expected to meet with Holtzberg’s grandparents and the Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, who saved Moshe – who was then nearly two – by picking him up and running out of the building under attack.  She was granted honorary citizenship in 2010.

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