Modi thanks Netanyahu for 'warm welcome'

| Updated: Jul 05, 2017 01:22 IST

Tel Aviv [Israel], July 4 (ANI): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who today arrived at Tel Aviv, thanked his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, who, in a special gesture, was present to receive him, for the 'warm welcome'. Speaking here, the Indian Prime Minister said, "It is my singular honour to be the first ever prime Minister of India to undertake this ground breaking visit to Israel." "The people of Israel have built a nation on democratic principles. They have converted challenges into opportunities. India applauds your achievement," he added. Modi, in his speech, also noted the 41st anniversary of Operation Entebbe, where Prime Minister Netanyahu lost his elder brother Yoni. Operation Entebbe was a successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission carried out by commandos of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976. A week earlier, on June 27, an Air France plane with 248 passengers had been hijacked by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - External Operations (PFLP-EO) and two members of the German Revolutionary Cells. The hijackers had the stated objective to free 40 Palestinian and affiliated militants imprisoned in Israel and 13 prisoners in four other countries in exchange for the hostages. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and unit commander Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu was killed during the operation. "Your heroes are an inspiration for the younger generation," said Prime Minister Modi. He further said that India is a very old civilisation, but a very young nation and the talented and skill youth of the country are also its driving force. "They propel my vision to transform India, its industry, economy, way of doing business and interface with the world," said the India leader. "India counts Israel among its important partners. the need to rely on science, technology, innovation and higher technical education to overcome developmental challenges are common to both of us," the Prime Minister added. Talking about the 'common threat' of terrorism, Prime Minister Modi said, "Alongside building a partnership of shared economic prosperity, we are also cooperating to secure our societies against common threats such as terrorism." He also expressed his keenness on interacting to the Indian Diaspora in Israel, including a number of Jews of Indian origin. "My visit marks a path braking journey of engagement A journey that we are excited to undertake together for the good of our people and societies. As we march together a strong and resilient partnership with Israel will be my intent and focus," he concluded. Prime Minister Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. As part of an elaborate official welcome ceremony, Netanyahu received Prime Minister Modi on arrival. Prime Minister Modi inspected a ceremonial Guard of Honour. Prime Minister Netanyahu began his press statement with the Hindi words "Aapka swaagat hai mere dost." He said the Prime Minister is welcomed with open arms and even the sky is not the limit for cooperation between the two countries. Netanyahu described Prime Minister Modi as a great leader and a "world leader." Prime Minister Modi's program for the day includes him visiting a flower farm. From there he will head to Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem accompanied with the Israeli leader. Tomorrow, the Indian leader will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, hold talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu and then attend an event organised by the Indian community in Israel in Tel Aviv. On Thursday, Modi along with his Israeli counterpart, will visit Haifa cemetery, the cemetery of the fallen Indian soldiers in the first world war and place wreath on the grave areas. From there, the duo will head for a field visit to see the Gal Mobile-integrated water purification vehicle designed to produce high quality drinking water. It can be used during times of disasters to provide drinking water. (ANI)