NEW DELHI – Three Indian Naval ships reached Israel this week to engage with the Israeli Navy in a series of activities ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in July.

Trishul, Mumbai and Aditya ships of Indian Navy reached Israeli port of Haifa after concluding an anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, NDTV reported.

This is the eighth time Indian ships have docked at an Israeli port, with the first in 2000. “The current visit seeks to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries and, in particular, to strengthen the existing friendship between India and Israel,” read a statement by the Indian Embassy in Israel.

The visit by the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet, led by Rear Admiral RB Pandit, is in celebration of the 25th anniversary of ties between Israel and the South Asian nation. In July, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also arrive in Israel for a short visit to commemorate the occasion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel would be the first such tour by an Indian leader to the Jewish state.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992 but India has shied away from such high-level visits in the past, Press Trust of India (PTI) had reported earlier this year.

BJP-led governments prioritise ties with Israel as President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel in October 2015 in what was the first such visit by an Indian Head of State to Israel. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made a reciprocal visit last year at Mukhejee’s invitation.