From Mahesh Trivedi (KT correspondent), 8 May 2006
AHMEDABAD — In his first foreign trip after he was denied a US visa more than a year ago, Narendra Modi is leaving for Israel today to attend the three-day 'Agri-tech fair Tel Aviv' opening on May 9.
Though the Gujarat chief minister, state agriculture minister and other government officials accompanying him will study the dry-land farming techniques, a unique soil test equipment to detect deficiency and a novel harvester for groundnut that separates nuts, they will carry with them an audio-visual presentation on the state's one-of-a-kind water conservation methods to be shown to the Israelis.
During his seven-day tour, Modi, who will meet the Gujarati community there on May 8, will later join federal agricultural minister Sharad Pawar who is reaching Tel Aviv with a high-level team of experts as also chief ministers of Nagaland and Rajasthan. Modi was invited to Israel by the country's New Delhi-based high commissioner when he visited Gujarat a few months ago.
After the Bush administration refused visa for Modi's dubious role during the bloody communal riots in the state in 2002, the chief minister had to cancel even his UK visit a month later in March last year when London said it would neither offer him a diplomatic status nor state security.
Under the circumstances, Israel's decision to invite Modi has surprised many as his government had invited brickbats not long ago for glorifying Hitler in school text-books.