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New Delhi: India on Monday called for further broad-basing of its defence ties with Israel through production and manufacturing partnerships, with the Jewish country emerging as a key source of military hardware and technology as also a crucial partner in counterterrorism for Asia’s third largest economy.

The two countries also agreed to deepen their cooperation in areas ranging from trade and investment, agriculture, water resources and counterterrorism besides defence cooperation during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Rivlin is in India on a week-long visit, his first since taking office in June 2014. This is also the first visit by an Israeli President to India since 1996. A Presidential visit from Israel clears the decks for a visit by Modi to Israel next year—the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister—when the two countries mark 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel last October as part of a three-nation tour—marking the highest level visit from India since 1992. And Rivlin’s visit completes the protocol requirements for a visit from Israel before Modi travels there. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could also visit India next year.

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In his remarks to reporters after talks with Rivlin, Modi said the two countries had developed multifaceted ties in the past 25 years—in areas ranging from agricultural productivity, research and innovation, science and technology applications, trade and investment ties besides defence.

“We have identified water management and conservation, and collaboration in scientific research and development as two areas of priority engagement. We both agreed that the current trajectory of the Indian economy opens up many promising opportunities for Israeli companies," Modi said.

Many of India’s flagship programmes like Make in India, Digital India and Smart Cities development, with their “emphasis on innovation, research and technological development, match well with Israel’s strengths and capacities," Modi said.

“Our partnership can generate jobs and benefit both geographies. IT services is an area where our partnership can make a difference for both our economies," Modi said.

On his part, Rivlin said the India-Israeli partnership was making a difference to the people of the two countries. He also said Israel was “ready to answer" Modi’s call to Make in India.

On security cooperation, Modi said India and Israel valued the “strong and growing partnership", adding that the two countries were facing similar challenges of terrorism and extremism.

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“We recognize that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organized crime. Regrettably, one of the countries of its origin and spread is in India’s neighbourhood. We agreed that the international community must act with resolve and determination against terror networks and states that harbour them," Modi said.

The allusion to a country in India’s neighbourhood was to Pakistan. Tensions between India and Pakistan are at a high following the 18 September attack on an Indian Army garrison in Uri and India’s strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on 29 September in response.

“We agreed to intensify our cooperation to combat the forces of extremism and radicalization that threaten all peace-loving nations. We also prioritized practical and specific engagement such as in the cyber domain. We noted the strength of our growing defence partnership. And, agreed on the need to make it more broad-based through production and manufacturing partnerships," Modi added.

Rivlin backed India’s stance on terrorism, stating that “nothing can justify terror".

Before heading home, Rivlin will be attending a memorial service for six Jewish nationals killed in Chabad House during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

Summing up the gist of his talks with the Israeli leader, Modi, in a media statement, said people of both countries were constantly threatened by forces of terrorism and extremism and both sides agreed to intensify cooperation in combating them effectively, particularly having “practical and specific" engagement in the cyber domain.

“We recognize that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organized crime," he said.

“We agreed that the international community must act with resolve and determination against terror networks and states that harbour them. Failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists," Modi said.

Noting that Rivlin’s visit has given a “crucial push" to efforts to build new pillars in bilateral ties, Modi said both sides noted the strength of the growing defence partnership and agreed on the need to make it “more broad-based" through production and manufacturing partnerships.

India is Israel’s largest buyer of military hardware and the latter has been supplying various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years but the transactions have largely remained behind curtains.

The two sides inked two pacts to strengthen cooperation in agriculture and water resources management sectors.

Referring to growing collaboration between the two countries, particularly in defence sector, Rivlin said his country is ready to “make in India and make with India".

He also asserting that nothing can justify terrorism. “We stand together in defending our people and our values."

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