JERUSALEM, Apr 29: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today promised to explore cooperation with Maharashtra in a range of fields, including defence production and agriculture.
Netanyahu told visiting Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that his country sees India as an important partner and he was looking for broader cooperation.
The Israeli premier has consistently maintained that "sky is the limit" in India-Israel ties since his September meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Fadnavis discussed with Netanyahu the agrarian crisis in his state, especially in the Vidarbha and Marathwada areas which have been affected by crop failures and farmers' suicides, and sought Israel's help not only with technology but also in evolving strategies to tackle the issue.
The Israeli premier responded positively promising all required cooperation.
"The response of the Israeli prime minister was encouraging and we look forward to intense discussions between experts from both sides to address our agrarian crisis," Fadnavis told PTI after the meeting.
The Maharashtra Chief Minister's calls for Israeli defence industries to "Make in Maharashtra" also received a favourable response from Netanyahu.
"Israeli Defence Industries are looking for proper places with skilled workforce and would be happy to explore opportunities in Maharashtra given its strengths," Netanyahu told Fadnavis.
Fadnavis had appealed to Israel's defence industries to set up manufacturing units in his state earlier during his visit and today met officials at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to promote such an investment.
"As you all know that Israel is the second largest supplier of defence equipment to India. So I think it is not just time to supply, it is also time to manufacture in India and especially in Maharashtra," he emphasised.
The chief minister also discussed at length the strengths of his state that make it a preferred destination for investments. Netanyahu and Fadnavis also discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in the field of cyber security and in building smart cities.
Fadnavis had earlier signed an agreement with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to cooperate in building smart cities. Read the full story here
"Since my meeting with Prime Minister Modi in New York, we've had tremendous tightening and development of our relations. Your visit is part of that. We've had visits of our ministers in India. It's time that Prime Minister Modi came to Israel," Netanyahu told Fadnavis.
"This is an invitation", the Israeli premier said.
"We have many, many areas of cooperation for good things, and also hard times. And we want to express our condolences for the loss of lives in the recent earthquake and also to express appreciation for this cooperation in these dire times and for the best of times," he added.