JERUSALEM, Jan 10 (IANS): Hailing India as the "greatest democracy on earth" and "a great culture", Israel has backed India for a permanent seat on the expanded United Nations Security Council.
"For us India is first of all a culture. Then it is for us the greatest democracy on earth and then the unbelievable achievement of overcoming poverty without becoming poor in freedom," Israeli President Shimon Peres said Monday night while welcoming India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to his country.
"I wish that India would become a permanent member of the Security Council," Peres said.
Krishna Monday began a two-day visit to Israel, the first by an Indian foreign minister to that country in the last 11 years.
Describing Mahatma Gandhi as a "prophet" and former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru a "king", Peres said India was "fortunate that it had two great and unforgettable leaders".
"We are following India with great care and interest, not just in the political sense but being a citizen of the world, we think that without India and China hunger would govern the world," he said.
Krishna called Peres "a statesman of calibre" and held up Israel as an inspiration for India for achieving self-sufficiency in food production. "I think it's about time for the leaderships of both the countries to set the agenda for the coming decade. So I think it is in that spirit that I have come here," said Krishna.
In his speech, Krishna stressed that Israel has emerged "a stronger nation after every war".
"I think the entire world looks to you with great respect," Krishna said while voicing satisfaction at the way the relations between the two countries have been burgeoning since they established diplomatic ties in 1992.
"We look forward to continued bilateral relationship... politically there are no problems as such. Now I think the economic content has to become more assertive and to keep growing. I think the relationship is going on very healthy," Krishna said.
Krishna will call on Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv later Tuesday and hold extensive talks with Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The two countries are expected to sign an extradition treaty and an agreement on transfer of sentenced people that will boost security cooperation between the two countries, sources said.
Besides defence and economic ties, the major focus of talks in Israel, a leader in dry land farming technologies, will be on expanding cooperation in the area of agriculture.
India sees Israel as a key partner in its ongoing efforts to launch a second green revolution and to boost food security. The two sides are also expected to unveil a composite Indo-Israeli fund for spurring research and development across a spectrum of areas.
Expanding defence and counter-terror cooperation will also figure prominently in the talks. Israel has emerged as India's second largest defence supplier after Russia.