Middle East

Netanyahu says ‘Shalom Bollywood’ in bid to woo India to film in Israel

Amitabh Bachchan with Netanyahu and his wife at the 'Shalom Bollywood' event in Mumbai (@Netanyahu)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with senior figures from India's film industry, in a bid to woo Bollywood and convince it to film movies in Israel.

Netanyahu met with India's biggest film stars at a star-studded event called "Shalom Bollywood" in Mumbai – home of India's film industry.

Among the attendees of the event were Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan, former actress and Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and talk show host Karan Johar.

Rai and Johar welcomed Netanyahu and gave his wife, Sara, a bouquet of flowers at the start of the event. The Israeli premier later took a selfie with the Indian film stars and local government ministers.

Senior figures from India's government were also present to welcome Netanyahu and his wife to the event.

In preparation for the Shalom Bollywood event, Israeli diplomats from its consulate in Mumbai met with Bachchan earlier this week.

Yaakov Finkelstein, Israel's Consul General in Mumbai, tweeted a picture with Bachchan, and thanked him for his "active role in the cooperation between #Bollywood and Israel."

Before the event, Netanyahu also visited the site of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack carried out by a Pakistani militant group.

Will my Bollywood selfie beat @TheEllenShow Hollywood selfie at the Oscars? @SrBachchan@juniorbachchan@rajcheerfull@imbhandarkar@vivek_oberoi @ pic.twitter.com/v1r0GIhKLy

— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 18, 2018

The event was part of the Israeli premier's six-day visit to India. He is the second premier to visit India after former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 1992.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu confirmed to a local Indian TV channel that a defence deal with Israeli defence company Rafael worth half a billion US dollars was "back on the table."

Netanyahu gave a wide-ranging interview with TV host Rahul Shivshankar on Indian news channel Times Now, where he described Israel's relationship with India as "very emotional and deeply signifying."

He added: "Indian Prime Minister Modi and our officials spoke and he confirmed that this deal is back on the table. I can't say more than that."

Netanyahu told Shivshankar that India's decision to vote against a UN General Assembly motion supporting Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel did not "cast a shadow" on the visit.

The visit signifies the growing relationship between India and Israel. During his trip, Netanyahu held several meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and local government ministers in a bid to foster stronger relations between the two countries.

The Israeli Premier visited India with senior businessmen, including Rafael CEO Yoar Har Even, alongside other defence industry leaders from Israel.

Modi made history when he became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel last year. India formally established full diplomat relations in 1992.

Bilateral trade between the two countries worth billions of dollars with diamond and defence being the key drivers of the relation.

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