Mahmoud Abbas visits India: Narendra Modi conveys 'unwavering support' to Palestinian cause

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today "reaffirmed" India's support for the creation of a Palestinian state, two months before he becomes the first Indian chief executive to visit Israel, attempting an uncomfortable balance between diplomatic tradition and ambition.

Abbas arrived with a delegation for his third state visit to India, where he will hold key talks on bilateral, regional and worldwide issues, including the peace process in the restive Middle East, according to India's foreign ministry.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida said United States officials who arrived in Israel in preparation for Trump's visit told Israeli officials that al-Buraq (the Western Wall) and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in East Jerusalem are part of the occupied West Bank.

Abbas, in a befitting reply, said that Palestine appreciates the solidarity India extends to its cause.

India and Palestine on 16 May 2017 signed 5 agreements for cooperation in different areas including agriculture, health and Information Technology. India is undertaking projects assistance for a flagship techno-park projects in Ramallah which will serve as an IT hub in Palestine. The project worth $12 million is the single biggest project supported by India in Palestine till date.

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The visit of the Palestinian President comes ahead of Modi's visit to Israel which is likely to take place in July.

While former US Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting the region later this week to resurrect long-stalled peace talks, the Palestinian insistence on the right to return to homes their families fled 65 years ago remains a stumbling block in any deal to end the conflict.

It may be recalled that India's ties with Israel expanded simultaneously with expansion of its partnership with Arab World during the past two decades.

While issues like the Middle East peace process will be the subject of talks between PM Narendra Modi and Abbas during his three day visit - links between the two countries in the tech sector are also top of the agenda. It has influence at the worldwide level. He given a ceremonial Guard of Honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which was followed by a wreath laying ceremony at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial at Raj Ghat. Modi, while inviting Palestinian people to participate in large numbers during International Yoga Day, Modi also said that both leaders also look forward to enhancing our cultural exchanges by adding new elements including Yoga exchanges.

The White House said early last week that Trump will express his support for Palestinian self-determination. "The agreements concluded today are reaffirmation of our intent to strengthen cooperation in this direction".

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