India, Israel sign extradition pact, to forge anti-terror strategy

Jerusalem, Jan 10 (IANS) Outlining a blueprint for expanding bilateral ties in the future, India and Israel Tuesday signed an extradition treaty and resolved to flesh out a joint strategy to ‘checkmate’ the common threat of terrorism.

Hailing India as the ‘greatest democracy on earth’ and ‘a great culture’, Israel’s President Shimon Peres backed India for a permanent seat on the expanded United Nations Security Council.

India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna held talks with Israel’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman on a host of issues, including the intensification of trade and investment, counter-terror cooperation, the UN reforms and the global financial crisis.

After the talks, India and Israel, the second largest supplier of sophisticated military weapons to New Delhi after Russia, inked an extradition treaty and a pact on the transfer of sentenced prisoners.

Israel also decided to open a consulate in Bangalore, India’s IT hub and the hometown of Krishna.

The pacts are expected to expand the canvas of the burgeoning security partnership between the two countries.

During his two-day visit to Israel, which ended Tuesday evening, the first by an Indian foreign minister in 11 years, Krishna also met Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed with them the roadmap for scaling up multi-faceted relations across the spectrum.

India pressed for closer collaboration with Israel, a leader in dryland farming, in its pursuit of launching a second green revolution in the country.

‘Impressive strides have been made in areas of critical importance to both our countries — from agriculture and water management to latest the hi-tech applications in communications, health and energy,’ said Krishna.

With both India and Israel being victims of repeated attacks of terror, the two countries sought to forge a joint strategy to deal with this scourge.

‘We will have to work out a strategy as to how we address ourselves to the scourge of international terrorism which has become the curse for the entire humanity,’ said Krishna.

‘I think our efforts should be to checkmate and ultimately eradicate terrorists from the face of the earth,’ he added.

Since the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, in which six Israeli nationals were also killed, counter-terror cooperation between India and Israel has intensified.

‘Indians and Israelis have shared the pain arising from loss of innocent lives in the dastardly act of terror in Mumbai in 2008 and are determined to fight the forces of terror together,’ said Krishna.

Describing India as ‘a natural ally’ of Israel in all frontiers of science, Krishna sought to deepen economic content in bilateral ties and called for scaling up the current $5 billion bilateral trade which he stressed was much below potential.

‘The Free Trade Agreement now under negotiation is clearly a step in the right direction. It will give a boost to our economic and commercial ties,’ said Krishna.

Netanyahu struck an upbeat note on the trajectory of India’s relations with Israel which have been blossoming since the two countries established diplomatic ties two decades ago.

‘India and Israel are two ancient peoples seizing the future: in technology, in innovation, in enterprise, and I think we can seize it even better by our cooperation,’ said Netanyahu.