Indian President Pranab Mukherjee will become the first holder of his office to Israel later this year, a further illustration of the growing ties between the two countries. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do the same this year.
Mukherjee plans to begin his Middle East trip on Oct. 9. According to Indian media reports, his first stop will be Jordan, followed by the Palestinian Authority. He will then arrive in Israel.
Since its founding, India has had close relations with the Arab world. But recent years have seen a gradual rapprochement between Jerusalem and New Delhi, manifested by increased security cooperation. In February, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India, where the two countries finalized a major defense deal worth more than $1.5 billion.
Modi also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Reports have indicated that Modi is considering a shift in his country’s pro-Palestinian stance at the U.N.
Israel and India have had full diplomatic relations since 1992. Trade between the two countries equals about $5 billion a year, with India the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment, according to the Hindustan Times. The two nations have also been working closely in recent months on joint counter terrorism efforts.