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Modi arrives in West Bank to hold talks with Palestinian President Abbas

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on an official visit to the West Bank as part of a Middle East tour for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit the occupied West Bank on Saturday after flying in with his entourage by helicopter from Jordan and landing near Abbas’s presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

According to an AFP report, the Indian and Palestinian leaders were set to discuss issues including information technology, health and tourism during the brief visit, after which Modi will return to Jordan.

The Indian prime minister’s three-day tour will also take him to Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Modi’s visit follows his trip to Israel in last July — which was also the first by an Indian premier — and comes just three weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s six-day visit to India.

A senior Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that Abbas would ask India to play a role in a multilateral peace process between Israelis and the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reviews the honor guard with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, February 10, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

“India is a major and important country,” the official said. “It is one of the BRICS countries [an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa]. So the president will ask India to undertake a role in a multilateral peace process.”

The Palestinian president has sought international support for replacing the US as a mediator to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after US President Donald Trump declared last December that Washington was recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and planning to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

New Delhi, however, joined the more than 120 countries last month to vote in favor of a resolution calling for the United States to drop the controversial decision, which trigged widespread global condemnations and protests.

Trump’s declaration prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to formally declare that Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the decades-long conflict as Washington is “completely biased” towards Tel Aviv.

 

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