Ramallah, Feb 10: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reassured his country’s support for the Palestinian cause while Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas said that Palestinians relied on India’s role as an international force to bring peace in this region.
“I have assured President Abbas that India is bound by a promise to take care of Palestinian people’s interests,” Modi said in a joint address to the media along with Abbas following a bilateral meeting here.
“India hopes that soon Palestine will come a free country in a peaceful manner,” he stated.
Modi arrived here earlier in the day in first Prime Ministerial visit from India to Palestine.
“The interests of the Palestinian people have always been at the top of our foreign policy,” the Prime Minister said.
His comments came after India, along with the rest of the world, voted in the UN General Assembly in December last year against US President Donald Trump’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Isreal.
Stating that India hoped for peace and stability in Palestine, he said that a a permanent solution to the Palestinian issue was possible only through dialogue.
“Only diplomacy and farsightedness can get rid of violence and baggage of the past. We know it is not easy but we need to keep trying as a lot is at stake,” Modi said.
He said that the people of Palestine have continuously shown exemplary courage in extremely tough times, in spite of the fact that there was an unstable environment.
“The way you have moved forward in such a situation is praiseworthy, we appreciate it,” the Prime Minister said.
Stating that India been cooperating with Palestine in its efforts at nation building, he said that budgetary support will continue to be provided in areas such as training, technology, infrastructure development and project assistance.
“India will continue to invest in health and education infrastructure, women empowerment and in the installation of a printing press,” Modi said.
He also announced that from this year, the number of exchange of students between the two countries would be doubled from 50 to 100.
Modi also expressed his gratitude for being conferred The Grand Collar of the State of Palestine, the highest Palestinian reserved for foreign dignitaries like kings, heads of state or government and persons of similar rank.
On his part, Abbas said that the people of Palestine relied on India’s role as an international force, its role in the Non-Aligned Movement and in other international forums, “in a manner that is conducive for desired peace in our region”.
“Here 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 President said, and added that Israel and Palestine can co-exist as two states provided East Jerusalem is made the capital of Palestine.
Following Saturday’s meeting, India and Israel signed six memorandums of understanding (MoUs), including in the areas of health and education.
This was the fourth meeting between Modi and Abbas after those on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2015, at the Paris climate summit later that year and during the Palestinian President’s visit to India last year.
The visit also reaffirmed India’s foreign policy position that its relationship with one country is independent of its ties with a third country and will de-hyphenate Israel and Palestine after Modi’s standalone visit to Israel in July last year.
Earlier in the day, Modi was presented a guard of honour at the Presidential Palace soon after his arrival here from Amman, Jordan.
He also laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Yasser Arafat, the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the first President of the Palestinian Authority.
Palestine is the first leg of Modi’s three-nation tour of West Asia and the Gulf that will also see him going to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.