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India, Palestine Relations Have Stood the Test of Time, Modi in Palestine

RAMALLAH: Reiterating India’s support for an independent, sovereign  and peaceful Palestine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asserted that relations between India and Palestine have "stood the test of time.’’

As he wound up his brief visit to Palestine, Mr Modi, in his joint press statement along with Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas, said that India hopes for return of peace in the region. He favoured the path of negotiation for establishing peace in the region. It was the first visit by any Indian Prime Minister to Palestine which, Mr Modi said, has always occupied a top spot in India’s foreign policy.

Speaking in Hindi, Mr. Modi said that he hoped for a "peaceful co-existence’’ of Palestine with Israel and added that deep and involved diplomacy could play a vital role in it. "I know it is not easy but efforts should be continued towards this goal,’’ he said.

“People of Palestine have shown exemplary courage in challenging and tough times when there was an unstable environment. We appreciate it,’’ Mr Modi said, President Abbas described Mr. Modi as a "great guest" and said Palestine was relying on India's influence, its voice on strategic and economic levels and standing on the international fora which would be conducive to the desired goal of peace process process with Israel.  Mr. Modi was also conferred with the Grand Collar of the State of Palestine, highest honour to a foreign dignitary.

President Abbas, in his press statement, said: ``I would like to assert our commitment to political action and  negotiations as means of achieving our national goals to freedom and  independence in accordance with the two states' relation along the lines of 1967.’’

The two sides also signed six agreements and Mr Modi referred to a new  technology park being set up in Ramallah, Institute for Diplomacy and doubling of youth exchange from 50 to 100 from this year. He said that a new skill centre, capacity building centre, IT centres would also be set up with India’s cooperation to hone skills and provide employment to Palestinian youth.

“India remains committed to take care of the Palestinian peoples’ interests and we hope that soon Palestine will become a free country in a peaceful manner,’’ he said.

Prime Minister Modi returned to Jordanian capital Amman from where he will be flying to the United Arab Emirates on the second leg of his three-nation tour.

In the UAE, he will meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. He is also scheduled to speak at the World Government Summit in Dubai, where India is the guest country.

It will be Mr. Modi’s first visit to Oman as Prime Minister and will hold talks with the Sultan of Oman and other leaders. He would also interact with leading businesspersons of Oman on developing stronger economic and business links with India.

More than nine million Indians work and live in the Gulf region, of which about one third live in the UAE alone. In Oman, they constitute the largest expatriate community.  

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