He will have a meeting with top Israeli leadership on January 9, 10

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will on Sunday embark on an Indian Foreign Minister's first visit to Israel in a decade. Being packaged as a four-nation visit which will also include Palestine, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the focal point will be Mr. Krishna's meeting with almost the entire top Israeli leadership on January 9 and 10.

This will be a rare visit by an Indian External Affairs Minister to Palestine and Jordan as well, pointed out government sources. In an effort to stem criticism about timing the visit to Israel at a time when its leadership has been making bellicose statements, they insisted that each part of the trip was standalone in nature and in tune with India's policy of dealing with countries on an individual basis.

Mr. Krishna's first stop will be in Jordan on Sunday after which he will spend two days in Israel. He will travel to Palestine the next day and have a brief meeting in Dubai with a UAE Minister on January 11 before returning to the country, the sources said.

The meetings in Israel will touch upon a number of areas but the most watched will be talks to expand the areas of cooperation in the defence sector. “We want to move from a buyer-seller relationship to co-developers of defence equipment,” they said.

The two futuristic items that the India's defence establishment has identified for future development with foreign partners are armed unmanned aerial vehicles/ pilotless aircraft and quick reaction surface-to-air missiles. Signalling the proximity in ties after two decades of bilateral relations, the two sides will sign the Extradition Treaty and the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

In Palestine, he is likely to emphasise India's long standing support to a Palestinian homeland and seek views on the latest developments in the region.

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