India committed to support of Palestinian cause, Modi tells its Prez


While welcoming Trump's promise to pursue what he has called the "ultimate deal", Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Authority's new chief representative in Washington, insisted on Monday that any final agreement would have to satisfy the "legitimate aspirations" of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.

Describing Palestine as one of India's "old friend", Prime Minister Modi said "We hope to see the realisation of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel".

The visit of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas comes ahead of PM Narendra Modi's visit to Israel which is likely to take place in July.

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Abbas, who is being hosted by India ahead of Modi's first ever visit to Israel, said New Delhi's role will have significance as it had good relations with both the countries.

He has also advocated breaking with decades of precedent by moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem, a prospect deeply alarming to Palestinians. The meeting was of a humanitarian character - Putin and Abbas took part via video link-up in the opening of a multifunctional cultural and sports complex in Bethlehem, which was built with Russian assistance and donated to the people of Palestine.

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, President Abbas on Monday had called for worldwide backing for the peace efforts and asked for India's involvement. "We will continue to support the development and capacity-building efforts of Palestine", he said.

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The MoUs that were signed extend to Visa Exemption on Diplomatic and Official Passports, Cooperation in Youth Affairs and Sports, Agricultural Cooperation, Cooperation in Health Sector, and Information-Technology and Electronics.

No fewer than 1,500 Palestinian detainees are on an open ended hunger strike since April 17, with an overwhelming majority of strikers belonging to Fatah Party, which is led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

He has also advocated breaking with decades of precedent and moving the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a prospect deeply alarming to Palestinians. This is his fifth visit to India and his third state visit; his previous state visits were in 2008 and 2012.

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The Israeli official told Haaretz that during their conversation, the diplomatic incident between US consulate officials in Jerusalem and representatives of the prime minister's office regarding the status of the Western Wall did not come up.