Ramallah, Feb 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred The Grand Collar of the State of Palestine, the highest Palestinian honour for foreign dignitaries by Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas here on Saturday.
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.
Following this, duo witnessed the exchange of agreements between the two countries and issued a joint statement.
President Mahmoud Abbas said ” it is my honour to welcome you as a great guest, on your first historic visit to Palestine which holds, to you personally and to the people of India, sentiments of love & appreciation. Indian leadership has always stood by peace in Palestine.
Speaking on Israel-Palestine relations, Abbas stated we have said & will say we are ready to engage in negotiations. We rely on India’s role as an intn’l force & its role in the non-alignment movement and in the intn’l fora, in a way that is conducive to desired peace in our region.
— ANI (@ANI) February 10, 2018
Here I would like to assert our commitment to political action & negotiations as means of achieving our national goals to freedom & independence in accordance with the two states’ relation along the lines of 1967, he asserted.
In the meantime, Indian Prime Minister in his address said ” This is an honour for India and a symbol of Palestine’s friendship. I thank you on behalf of all Indians for the Grand Collar”.
“India & Palestine’s relations have stood the test of time. Palestine has always taken a top spot in our foreign policy”.
He stated “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 moved forward in such a situation is praiseworthy, we appreciate it”.
“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”.
Modi said, “I am happy to announce that we will double the exchange of students from this year taking it from 50 to 100”.
Earlier in the day, the Indian prime minister was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour at Al-Muqata’a compound of the presidential headquarters in Palestine’s Ramallah.
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.
On his arrival, Modi was received by his Palestinian counterpart Rami Hamdallah after alighting from a helicopter that brought him to Ramallah from Jordan capital Amman.
Palestine is the first leg of Modi’s three-nation tour of West Asia.
After concluding his, Palestine visit, Modi will reach Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE which is home to a huge Indian diaspora, on Saturday evening — his second visit after August 2015.
There he is scheduled to hold talks with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, who was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day in 2017.
The Prime Minister will also call on Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. Following this, several agreements include in areas such as finance and skills development are likely to be signed.
Modi is slated to interact with UAE and Arab CEOs in Dubai on the economic opportunities in India.
“At the invitation of the leadership of the UAE, I will be addressing the 6th edition of the World Government Summit in Dubai where India is the guest country of honour,” Modi said.
On the final leg, Modi will visit Muscat on Sunday before returning to Delhi the following day.
In both Oman and the UAE, Modi is expected to meet the Indian communities which he stated “is a bridge of friendship between India and the Gulf countries”.