Israel is an important partner for India: Navtej Sarna

Jerusalem: Terming Israel as an "important partner", India`s top diplomat here counts counter-terrorism, multi-billion dollar defence arena, agriculture, water and energy as sectors that will see growing cooperation between the two countries in the coming years.

"There are several sectors in which India and Israel will be working together, are working together and which are critical for both the economies," Indian Ambassador to Israel Navtej Sarna told PTI here as the two countries celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations this year. Though, diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and New Delhi was set up only in 1992, the ties between the two have grown on a very fast pace.

From a mere USD 200 million bilateral trade in 1992, it has grown to about USD 5 billion last year. Not only that, the bilateral defence trade stands at approximately about USD 9 billion and is growing at a very fast pace.

Tel Aviv has emerged as the second biggest defence supplier to New Delhi after Russia. From a buyer-seller relationship, both India and Israel are now trying to branch out to joint research and development initiatives.

Both the countries are in discussion on a Free Trade Agreement and official believe that once it is signed, trade figures will see an exponential jump. "We are in the business of making partnership with large number of countries which help us to actualize potential of our people and enable us to grow at the rate we are growing or even faster. In that sense Israel is an important partner, is a source of excellent technology for us," Sarna said.