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Indian PM Modi makes historic visit to Palestine

Indian PM Modi makes historic visit to Palestine

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend a joint press conference after their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 10, 2018.

"I have assured President Abbas that India is bound by a promise to take care of Palestinian people's interests".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that Palestine counts on the pivotal Indian role in achieving peace and security cooperation between the two countries in combating terrorism, wherever it may be. In December, India backed a United Nations resolution that opposed the USA decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He said India remains "committed to Palestinian national rights", but stopped short of offering support for Abbas' political agenda. He will also visit a temple constructed by Indian community in that country. "Our discussions today will give great strength to India-Jordan bilateral relations", Modi tweeted on Friday.

The Indian leader is on a four-day regional tour which includes Palestine, the UAE, and Oman.

The meeting also addressed developments related to the Palestinian cause, and Jordan's role in safeguarding Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, in line with the Hashemite Custodianship.

Commenting on the Palestine-Israel conflict, President Abbas said, "We have said and will say we are ready to engage in negotiations".

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Modi's visit to the Palestinian territories is viewed as an attempt to balance Indian foreign policy in the Middle East.

"We count on India, an global force on a strategic and economic level, to help Palestinians achieve a just peace in our region", Abbas said at the press conference. Modi's first visit to the UAE had come in August 2015 which was the first official visit of an Indian PM to the UAE in 34 years after Indira Gandhi's visit in 1981.

Ties between the US and the PA hit a nadir following US President Donald Trump's December 6 declaration that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, with Abbas declaring the US could no longer serve as an "honest broker" in peace talks.

Analysts say that although India wants its relations with the two countries to be independent of each other, the tilt is toward Israel, which is now among the top defense suppliers to New Delhi.

Modi's West Bank visit was seen, in part, as an attempt to compensate the Palestinians after he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for six days last month, in a reflection of warming ties between Israel and India.

Kumar noted that the GCC is now India s largest regional trading bloc and accounts for nearly 20 percent of its bilateral trade.


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