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Modi on Palestine, West Asia tour to balance growing ties with Israel

IANS  |  Amman 

on Friday arrived in on the first leg of his four-nation regional trip that will also take him to a first-ever Indian prime ministerial visit to Palestine, besides the UAE and in the Gulf.

The February 9-12 trip comes within a month of the visit to by Israeli that saw the two countries hailing each other as a strategic partner despite New Delhi's long-standing support for the Palestinian cause.

began the visit with Jordan, the first by an Indian in 30 years. He was "warmly received by Prime Minister of (Hani Al-Mulki) in Amman," tweeted.

The said the visit to the four countries was aimed at deepening "our multifaceted ties with the Gulf and West Asian region".

After arriving in Amman, met of who will facilitate his transit to Palestine on Saturday.

When Modi reaches Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestine Authority, from Jordan's capital in a helicopter, he will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Palestine where he will meet

The Palestinian Presidency, in a pre-arrival welcome statement, described the upcoming visit as "historic and significant".

Before taking off from New Delhi, Modi said he was "looking forward to my discussions with Abbas and reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine".

This will be Modi's fourth meeting with Abbas. They had earlier met on the sidelines of the in 2015, at the climate summit later that year and during the Palestine President's visit to last year.

B. Bala Bhaskar, (and North Africa) in the External Affairs Ministry, said had contributed immensely to Palestine's nation-building efforts, including infrastructure development and capacity building.

The visit is also aimed at deepening the bilateral agenda, including cooperation in areas of health, IT, tourism, youth affairs, sports and agriculture.

Modi will also lay a wreath at the memorial for Yasser Arafat, a close friend of India who headed the and later the Palestinian till his death in 2004. India had recognised the Palestine state in 1988.

Despite Modi's personal camaraderie with Netanyahu, India voted in the in December last year against US Donald Trump's unilateral recognition of as Israel's capital.

After 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.

He will hold talks with the of and of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, who was the chief guest at in 2017.

The Prime Minister will also hold talks with Sheikh Following this, several agreements include in areas like and skills development are likely to be signed.

Modi is scheduled to interact with UAE and Arab CEOs in 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 where India is the guest country of honour," Modi said.

On the final leg, Modi will visit on Sunday before returning to the following day.

In both and the UAE, Modi is expected to meet the Indian diaspora which he said "is a bridge of friendship between India and the Gulf countries". He is expected to hold talks with the Sultan of and other leaders and interact with business people of Oman on developing stronger economic links with India.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 20:28 IST