Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will bring 130 businessmen with him to India next week for trade talks that will also cover sales of military equipment, a senior official said Wednesday.
The Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Asia, Gilad Cohen, said the trip from 14 to 19 January was aimed at deepening the political, trade and cultural ties between the two countries.
Last month, however, India had voted at the UN General Assembly against the recognition by US President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Israel lobbied for support from countries like India, but Netanyahu said on Wednesday he saw no setback in relations.
“I would have preferred another vote, to be frank,” the prime minister told reporters, “but I do not think it actually changes the fruitful relationship between India and Israel.”
The Indian Ministry of Defense announced last week that it would buy 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel.
These missiles manufactured by the armament company Rafael will be used for the first Indian aircraft carrier under construction.
However, Rafael also said that India has canceled a separate $ 500 million deal for the purchase of Spike anti-tank missiles.
Mr. Cohen refused to answer questions on the subject in his interview Wednesday with reporters in Jerusalem.
“The Prime Minister will address the full range of issues that make up relations between Israel and India: water, agriculture, energy, culture, innovation and defense,” he said. “I do not want to give more details on the defense issues”.
Israel is a major defense supplier to India, with about one billion dollars of military equipment sold.
In April, the two countries signed a military agreement worth nearly $ 2 billion, including the provision of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launcher missiles and communication technologies.
One of the stages of Mr. Netanyahu’s trip, the first in India of an Israeli prime minister since Ariel Sharon’s 2003 visit, will be in Mumbai, where he will meet celebrities and executives of the movie industry on January 18.
“Bollywood stars have considerable influence around the world,” said Cohen, adding that Israel wanted to push the Indian film industry to shoot a film in the Jewish state.
Netanyahu will meet with Indian leaders and attend a tribute ceremony to the victims of the bombings in 2008 during which a Jewish center was stormed, killing six people including a rabbi and his wife.