Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday said that they rely on India’s role for peace in the region as Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Ramallah.
President Abbas received Modi, who is the first Indian Prime Minister to make an official visit to Palestine, in the official ceremony at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah before starting official talks.
Modi was also conferred the ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine’ by Abbas, recognising his key contribution to promote relations between India and Palestine.
After the talks, the two countries also signed bilateral agreements.
Addressing a joint conference, President Mahmoud Abbas said that It was his honour to welcome Modi as a great guest, on his first historic visit to Palestine which holds, to him personally and to the people of India, sentiments of love and appreciation.
Stating that Indian leadership has always stood by peace in Palestine, Abbas said, “We have said and will say we are ready to engage in negotiations. We rely on India’s role as an international force and its role in the non-alignment movement & in the international fora, in a way that is conducive to desired peace in our region.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the honour conferred on him is a symbol of Palestine’s friendship and India hopes that soon Palestine will come a free country in a peaceful manner.
“I thank you on behalf of all Indians for the honour…India and Palestine’s relations have stood the test of time. Palestine has always taken a top spot in our foreign policy,” Modi said.
Stating 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, Modi said, “The way you moved forward in such a situation is praiseworthy, we appreciate it.”
Modi also assured President Abbas that India is bound by a promise to take care of Palestinian people’s interests. “India hopes that soon Palestine will come a free country in a peaceful manner,” he said.
“We hope for peace and stability in Palestine, we believe a permanent solution is possible with dialogue. Only diplomacy and farsightedness can set free from 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.
The Prime Minister also said that India is aiding construction of an Institute of Diplomacy in Palestine.
“I am happy that we are moving forward with our developmental corporation forward during this visit. I am happy to announce that we will double the exchange of students from this year taking it from 50 to 100,” Modi said.
Modi’s visit to Palestine comes amid heightened tensions in the region after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The unilateral US decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was challenged at the UN General Assembly where 128 nations, including India, voted to turn down the move as “null and void”.
Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital angered the Palestinians, sparked protests in the Middle East and raised concern that it could further destabilise the region.
Though India has shied away from becoming a party in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinian leader on several occasions has stressed on a possible role for New Delhi in the Middle East peace process