Following the historic first visit to Israel by an Indian President, which took place two weeks ago, President Reuven Rivlin on Monday morning hosted a meeting of Tel Aviv University's India-Israel Forum at his Presidential Residence in Jerusalem.
The event, which comes ahead of Rivlin's planned visit to India in the coming months, was attended by 20 representatives of each country, including the two serving ambassadors, faith and community leaders, journalists, and economic and business leaders.
Rivlin welcomed the work of the forum in strengthening the growing ties between Israel and India.
"Trade between our two countries has grown in many fields - from innovation and technology to agriculture and water. But these are just the statistics - what is important is that more and more Israelis and Indians are working together to find new solutions to the key issues we face today; producing enough food, conserving water, and developing new technologies and communications," said the president.
Referencing the visit by President Pranab Mukherjee, he said, "I want to stress, what a great pleasure it was to host President Mukherjee in Jerusalem just a few weeks ago. While he was here we made great progress on ways to further our bilateral trade, and I was very pleased to accept his kind invitation to visit India."
"We are working now to arrange a visit in the very near future during which I intend to travel together with Israeli business figures to meet their Indian colleagues, all of them experts in their fields, so that we continue to increase the cooperation between our two countries and between our two peoples."
Speaking about the impetus to improve ties further, he added, "we are natural partners in so many ways but cannot sit back. If we don’t keep moving forward, we will find ourselves falling behind. I greatly look forward to my visit, and hope it will serve to make our friendship even more productive."
Co-chairmen Jamshyd N. Godrej and Stan Bergman then spoke about the activities of the forum, and several members presented Rivlin with a range of the proposals and issues raised in their discussions.
In particular military ties between Israel and India have been growing rapidly of late, with India accelerating plans to buy Israeli drones that can be armed. The two have also long worked together to develop anti-missile systems, and are close to signing a deal to develop a joint surface-to-air missile system.
Rivlin with India-Israel Forum Mark Neyman (GPO)