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PM Modi meets Palestine President Abbas; deals worth $50 million signed

Mahmoud Abbas received PM Modi, first Indian prime minister to visit Palestine, with guard of honour in an official ceremony at the presidential compound known as Muqata'a

Press Trust of India  |  Ramallah (West Bank) 

PM Modi meets Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas
PM Modi meets Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas

today met Palestinian on his historic visit to Palestine and the two sides signed agreements worth around USD 50 million that includes setting up of a USD 30 million super speciality hospital. Abbas received Modi in an official ceremony at the presidential compound, also known as Muqata'a, in - the Palestinian seat of government. Modi is the first Indian to make an official visit to Palestine. After their talks, Modi said he has assured Abbas that is committed to the Palestinian people's interests. He said hopes for the return of peace in this region. "We know that it's not easy, but we should keep striving because a lot is at stake," he said in a joint press conference with Abbas. On his part, Abbas acknowledged that the Indian leadership has always stood by peace in Palestine. Abbas said Palestine is always ready to engage in negotiations to achieve its goal of an independent state. He asked to facilitate the peace process with "We rely on India's role as an voice of great standing and weigh through its historical role in the and in all forum and its increasingly growing power on the strategic and economic levels, in a way that is conducive to just and desired peace in our region," Abbas. The two sides signed agreements worth USD 50 million.

The agreement includes setting up of a super speciality hospital worth USD 30 million in and construction of a centre for empowering women worth USD 5 million. Three agreements in the education sector worth USD 5 million and for procurement of equipment and for the in were also signed. Abbas also conferred the 'Grand Collar of the State of Palestine' on Modi, recognising his key contribution to promote ties between and Palestine. The Grand Collar is Highest order given to foreign dignitaries - Kings, Heads of State/Government and persons of similar rank. Earlier, the two leaders exchanged hugs and stood for the national anthem of the two countries and then inspected the of honour before their bilateral talks. of Catholic Church, Poulos Marcwas, and religious leaders of the were also at the Muqata'a to greet Modi. Modi flew in a helicopter straight from to Ramallah, where he was received by his Palestinian counterpart Modi's chopper was escorted by choppers from Air Force. "This is a historic visit that will lead to stronger bilateral cooperation," Modi said shortly after landing. Soon after his arrival, Modi visited the Mausoleum of in and laid a wreath at the grave of the iconic Palestinian leader. He was accompanied by his Palestinian counterpart Hamdallah. The mausoleum was unveiled on November 10, 2007 and is located adjacent to the Palestinian Presidential compound, also known as Muqata'a here. After paying homage to Arafat, Modi took a short tour of the located adjacent to the mausoleum. During his maiden visit to last year, Modi did not travel to His standalone visit to had led to analysts questioning the future of the Indo-Palestine ties. This time Modi skipped in a clear message that is de-hyphenating its ties with and Palestine. Modi's visit to Palestine comes amid heightened tensions in the region after US recognised as the capital of The unilateral US decision to declare as the capital of was challenged at the where 128 nations, including India, voted to turn down the move as "null and void". Trump's decision to declare as Israel's capital angered the Palestinians, sparked protests in the and raised concern that it could further destabilise the region. Though has shied away from becoming a party in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinian leader on several occasions has stressed on a possible role for in the peace process. believes in a two-state solution in which both and a future Palestinian state coexist peacefully. The two-state solution envisions independent Israeli and Palestinian states coexisting side by side peacefully. The Palestinians see east as their future capital.

First Published: Sat, February 10 2018. 19:51 IST