JERUSALEM: Israel on Wednesday expressed hope that India and China will sort out their differences in a “peaceful way”, amidst mounting tension between the two Asian giants over the border issue.
“We hope that all things will be sorted out in a peaceful way, and the tension will be lowered. This is our desire,” Deputy Director General for the Asia-Pacific at Israel’s foreign ministry Gilad Cohen said in response to a question on the border tension between India and China at an online briefing.
Tensions between India and China escalated manifold along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh after the Galwan Valley clashes in June. The latest incident occurred on Monday.
India on Tuesday said Chinese troops attempted to close in on its position in eastern Ladakh on Monday and fired shots in the air, in a rapid escalation of tensions where firearms were used along the Line of Actual Control after 45 years.
Cohen said that Israel enjoyed good relations with both the countries and it is willing to have trade agreements with them.
“We try to have good relations with all of the countries in Asia and this is very very important to us.. As you see we have good relations with India. We have good relations with China,” he said.
“With India we spoke about this trade agreement about designated products. With China we are talking about a Free Trade Agreement…India and China also have a lot of commerce,” Cohen said.
“We hope to have a kind of agreement for designated products with India,” he said, describing the Free Trade Agreement as a “great engine for boosting the economies.”
According to sources, Israel is working on a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with India with a designated list of 270-280 products.
The service sector has been left out of the agreement with India. Israel’s FTA with all the countries, including with its closest ally USA, also does not include the services sector. In such a scenario, a PTA on designated goods can help facilitate bilateral trade between the two countries, informed sources said.
Israel is in discussions with South Korea, Vietnam, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries over signing of a Free Trade Agreement.
“We are going to sign a FTA with Korea. We have also in the pipeline a (trade) agreement in an advanced stage with China and Vietnam,” Cohen said.
The strategic relationship between India and Israel is on a qualitatively different trajectory since the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel three years ago in July 2017 – becoming the first Indian prime minister to tour the Jewish state. Netanyahu visited India in January 2018.
“We have very good relations with India. We can collaborate in many fields like agriculture, energy, water treatment,” Cohen said in response to a question. He also suggested a trilateral collaboration between Israel, India and the US.