Sushma Swaraj wraps up West Asia visit

19 Jan 2016 | By Gaurav

Sushma Swaraj wrapped up her visit to Israel and Palestine, her first visit to the region since she took charge as India's External Affairs Minister.

Her first stop was Palestine, on 17 January, following which she departed for Israel, the same day for a two-day visit.

The visit is significant as it may set the stage for Israeli PM Netanyahu's visit later this year.

In context: Sushma Swaraj's visit to West Asia

Balance Balancing out Israel and Palestine

In 1949, Jawaharlal Nehru voted against recognizing Israel at the UN, saying India 'could not recognise an Israel which had been achieved through the force of arms and not negotiations.'

India is a steadfast supporter of the Palestinian cause, either abstaining or voting against Israel in international fora over the Israel-Palestine crisis.

However, Israel remains one of India's closest partners in defence and counter-terrorism.

17 Jan 2016Sushma Swaraj on first visit to Palestine

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj paid her first visit to Palestine, to reaffirm the importance India attaches to its relations with Palestine.

Swaraj held talks with her counterpart Riyad al-Maliki and inaugurated the India-Palestine Digital Learning and Innovation Centre as part of capacity building efforts undertaken by the Indian government in Palestine.

India has worked extensively to develop infrastructure and living conditions in Palestine.

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A 'neutral' itinerary

Sushma Swaraj landed at Tel Aviv and drove to the Bituniya Checkpoint, crossing over to Palestine as the first country she "officially" visits. To appease the Israeli government, Swaraj stayed in Israel for 2 days, a day longer than she gave for Palestine.

17 Jan 2016Sushma Swaraj visits Israel

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in Israel after wrapping up her Palestine visit.

Swaraj met with President Reuven Rivlin, PM Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

She stated that India accords 'highest priority' to Indo-Israeli relations and looks forward to enhancing co-operation in Indian campaigns like Make in India, Digital India and Clean India.

Israel, a friend in need

Israel proved to be an important defence partner during the Kargil conflict by quickly providing India with mortar ammunition and laser-guided missiles for its fighter jets, which were instrumental in gaining the upper hand.

19 Jan 2016Sushma Swaraj wraps up West Asia visit