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India has been a steadfast true friend: Palestine

September 05, 2007 09:39 IST

Describing India as a 'true friend,' the Palestinian Authority has highly appreciated New Delhi's support as a donor nation.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met India's special envoy to West Asia, Chinmaya Gharekhan, separately last evening expressing gratefulness for steps being taken by New Delhi to help the Palestinian masses.

"India has been a steadfast true friend of the Palestinians and has always strongly stood by our cause. We also appreciate several projects India is planning to carry out to help the Palestinian people," Abbas told Gharekhan during an hour-long meeting.

The Palestinian President also welcomed India's friendly relations with Israel saying it can be 'a factor of support' considering the historic Indo-Palestine ties and help in pushing forward the peace process.

Palestinian leader also briefed the Indian envoy on the developments in the region and the preparations underway for the upcoming Middle East Peace Conference called by the United States in November.

He said that he was working 'seriously and sincerely' with the Israeli Premier to kickstart the peace process. Regarding internal political schism, Abbas said that he was not willing to get into dialogue with Hamas till it apologises for its actions in June and restores the situation that existed before it took seize of the Gaza Strip.

"India recognises President Abbas as the legitimate and sole leader of the Palestinian Authority," Gharekhan said.      

He also reiterated India's support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace with its neighbours.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also briefed Gharekhan, whom he called a personal friend for several years, on the developments in the region expressing gratefulness for India's support as a donor nation.

India is to build Jawaharlal Nehru senior secondary school in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, set up a cardiac surgery centre and an IT park in Gaza and build the Prime Minister's office in Ramallah as part of a $15 million aid package to the PA.

It has also become the first country outside the Arab world to construct the Palestinian embassy in its capital.      

Earlier, Israel welcomed India's contribution in pushing forward the Middle-East peace process, saying that its voice 'carries weight' in the international community.

"India's voice carries weight in the international community. It is an important country and Israel attaches a lot of significance to its relations with India," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Gharekhan during a meeting in Jerusalem on Monday.

"We welcome India's contribution in pushing forward the peace process," Livni added.

The special envoy held talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib in Amman before arriving in Jerusalem on Monday.

He will be meeting several senior leaders in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, including Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, during his eight-day trip to West Asia to extend India's support to the peace process.
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