India can play great role in peace efforts

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By Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will arrive in India on Sunday, and will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a visit aimed at “strengthening old ties”, Palestine’s envoy to India Adnan Abu Alhaija said here. He also expressed the hope India will play an “important” role in the Israel-Palestine peace process.

“India is a great nation, with an important role in Asia, and the world. Especially under Prime Minister Modi, the government has a strong character, and they could play a part in the (Israel-Palestine) resolution,”Ambassador Alhaija told The Hindu in an interview ahead of the visit.

The timing of President Abbas’s visit is significant for a number of reasons, said officials, as he will be travelling to Delhi from Moscow after meeting Russian President Vladmir Putin, and met with U.S. President Donald Trump last week in Washington, and would be able to share the two world leader’s visions with Mr. Modi.

Saying that he was keen on “getting it (the Middle East peace process) done”, President Trump announced he will make his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on May 22-23.

President Abbas visit to India also comes two months ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit to Israel in the first week of July. While the government has made no comment on the issue, reports suggest the Prime Minister will not travel to Palestine during the visit, as has been customary for other dignitaries including President Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

When asked if it will damage ties between India and Palestine if the Prime Minister visits Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but not Ramallah, Ambassador Alhaija said that Palestine doesn’t ever “interfere in India’s bilateral relations with any country.”

“We will take it that India’s relations with Israel could allow Mr. Modi to speak about the Palestinian cause and to find a solution to our problems.”

Two-state solution

“(I hope) India will keep the focus on the two-state solution, a focus on (Israel’s) plans to build and expand (Jewish) settlements, and I hope they will raise the issue of Palestinian detainees in (Israeli) jails,” he added on the issues Palestine hopes will be raised by PM Modi when he visits Israel.

Mr. Abbas, who last visited India in 2012, is expected to hold bilateral talks in Delhi on May 16, with six MoUs being discussed for announcement after his talks with Mr. Modi.

Source: The Hindu

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