Indian PM Modi makes historic visit to Palestine

Mahmoud Abbas Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Presidential Palace.

President Abbas also conferred the "Grand Collar of the State of Palestine" on Modi, recognising his key contribution to promote ties between India and Palestine.

New Delhi has backed the Palestinian territories' quest for nationhood and Modi has voiced support for an independent state existing peacefully alongside Israel.

Abbas thanked Modi for India's support for various Palestinian projects, saying this will enhance bilateral relations and serve the Palestinian population.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December, Abbas has been seeking worldwide support for countries from Europe and the Middle East to be included as mediators between Palestine and Israel - efforts that the U.S. has led. He said India remains "committed to Palestinian national rights", but stopped short of offering support for Abbas' political agenda. President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestine was relying on India's great standing on the global stage to facilitate the peace process with Israel.

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"India hopes that soon Palestine will become a free country in a peaceful manner". "The Indian Prime Minister will flag off laying of the temple's foundation stone during the community event", Suri said.

Three agreements in the education sector worth Dollars 5 million, one MoU for procurement of equipment and machinery for the National Printing Press and one for construction of a centre for empowering women were also signed. Both sides signed agreements worth around USD50 million that includes setting up of a USD30 million super specialty hospital. Modi visited the mausoleum of Yasser Arafat and laid a wreath at the grave of the Palestinian leader.

The Prime Minister reached Abu Dhabi on Saturday. The Palestinians see East Jerusalem as their future capital.

B Bala Bhaskar, a joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, said India has "de-hyphenated" its relations with Palestine and Israel. In December, India backed a United Nations resolution that opposed the USA decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"We count on India's role as an worldwide force of great prestige and weight", Abbas said, noting "its rising power at the strategic and economic levels" that could "contribute to the achievement of a just peace in our region". "The relations between India and Palestine have stood the test of time".

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