September 10, 2003
Joint statement issued on conclusion of visit to India by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
1. At the invitation of the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, paid a State visit to India from September 8-10 2003, the first-ever by an Israeli Prime Minister.
2. Prime Minister Sharon was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Yosef Lapid, Minister of Culture, Education and Sport, Limor Livnat (-together with a cultural delegation) and Minister of Agriculture, Israel Katz. The large accompanying business delegation underscored the importance the two countries attach to expanding their economic relations.
3. During the visit, Prime Minister Sharon called on President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, and held talks with Prime Minister Vajpayee. He also held separate meetings with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Lal Krishna Advani, Minister of Defence George Fernandes, Minister of Finance Jaswant Singh, Minister of External Affairs Yashwant Sinha and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi.
4. As ancient cultures and societies, India and Israel have left their mark on human civilization and history. As democratic countries since their inception, both nations share faith in the values of freedom and democracy. Both countries gained independence during the same period and embarked on a course of nation building to advance the well being of their respective peoples and to build modern democratic states able to face difficult challenges.
5. The two Prime Ministers discussed a range of important bilateral, regional and international issues. They reiterated their commitment to further advance the bilateral relations between the two countries and increase the scope of trade and economic exchanges.
6. The shared ideals draw both peoples into a natural amity in pursuit of common goals. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, there has been rapid expansion and deepening of bilateral relations. Both sides attach great importance to strengthening their long-term cooperation in the political, defence, economic, commercial, cultural and science and technology areas.
7. In the presence of the Prime Ministers, Ministers from both sides signed the following agreements:
- An agreement on Environment Protection.
- An agreement on Cooperation in Combating Illicit Trafficking and Abuse of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
- An agreement on Visa Free Travel for Diplomatic, Official and Service Passport Holders.
- An agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Health and Medicine.
- Exchange Program on Cooperation in the field of Education
- Exchange Program on Cooperation in the field of Culture.
These agreements will further enhance the institutional framework created by those which have already been signed between the two countries.
8. Both sides agreed to increase the frequency of bilateral visits by Ministers and officials and to consolidate the ties between business communities of the two countries. People-to-people relations will also be encouraged, in order to increase and deepen understanding between the societies.
9. Both sides expressed their satisfaction with the impressive growth in bilateral economic relations. They believe that there is considerable untapped potential to enhance these relations, particularly in fields such as hi-tech and infrastructure where there are synergies, in order to encourage the private and public sectors to expand the scope of mutual trade and investments. Israel expressed its interest in and willingness to participate in key national Indian Projects. Indian companies were invited to expand their activities in Israel - to encompass the field of investment - and to participate in the process of privatization in Israel. Both sides will explore together the best ways to strengthen and implement these goals.
10. Both sides noted the scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries and expressed willingness to enhance participation in the joint fund for scientific research established in 1994, as well as explore the possibility of the establishment of a bi-national research and development fund in the industrial fields, particularly in bio-technology, information technology, telecommunication, agricultural research and the civilian use of outer space.
11. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the relations between the countries in the field of tourism, and called for the expansion of these relations as an additional tool for strengthening the bond of familiarity between their peoples.
12. Israel and India expressed their desire to work together, along with other countries and the international community, to create a new and better world - a world of peace, prosperity and welfare, for the benefit of all peoples and nationals.
13. Terrorism undermines the very foundation of freedom and democracy, endangers the continued existence of open and democratic societies and constitutes a global threat; therefore, there cannot be any compromise in the war against terrorism. Together with the international community and as victims of terrorism, Israel and India are partners in the battle against this scourge. In line with their adherence to UNSCR 1373, they strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and call upon the international community to take decisive action against this global menace, and condemn states and individuals who aid and abet terrorism across borders, harbour and provide sanctuary to terrorists and provide them with financial means, training or patronage.
14. India and Israel called for the establishment of a just and durable peace in the Middle East. The two sides expressed their respective views, and called for a complete cessation of violence, so that a conducive environment is created for continuation of the dialogue.
15. India and Israel share the goal of advancing peace, security and stability in their own region and respect for democracy in the entire world, and will continue efforts to encourage this trend.
16. Both sides paid tribute to the contribution of the Jewish community in India and the Indian community in Israel in providing a bridge of understanding and in strengthening the ties of culture and trade between the two countries. The shining example of the freedom always given to the Jews of India to practice their religion and give expression to their culture is a tribute to Indias religious tolerance and secularism and sends a vital message of coexistence and harmony to the international community.
17. Prime Minister Sharon invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit Israel.
Prime Minister Vajpayee accepted this invitation with pleasure.
18. India and Israel believe that the State visit of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will further expand and enhance the framework of bilateral cooperation in various fields, and will contribute to strengthening the friendship between the two countries.