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Palestine Prez comes calling before PM Modi’s Israel visit

| | New Delhi | in Sunday Pioneer

In a fine balancing act, India will host Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas next week before Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes to Israel in July. Modi’s visit to Israel will be the first trip to the country by any Indian PM in the history of bilateral relations of the two nations.

Abbas will be on a State Visit to India from 14 to 17 May 2017, at the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee. This is the fifth visit, and the third State visit to India by President Abbas. Earlier, he had substantive meetings with PM Modi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2015.

During the visit, President Abbas will visit C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) in Noida on May 15 to forge cooperation between Palestine-India Techno Park being built by India in Palestine and Indian IT industry. He will also visit India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi.

On May 16, President Abbas will be given a ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan followed by wreath laying by him at Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi, Raj Ghat followed by delegation-level discussion with Modi. President Mukherjee will host a banquet in honour of Abbas. Vice-President Hamid Ansari, and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj will call on President Abbas during his stay in Delhi.

“India and Palestine enjoy historically close and friendly ties. Apart from the political support to the Palestinian cause, India continues to support developmental projects in Palestine by extending technical and financial assistance. The visit will provide an opportunity for reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral relations, Middle East Peace Process, regional and international issues. MoUs on cooperation in various areas are expected to be signed during the visit,” MEA said.

Though the Indian Government has constantly engaged with Palestine and supported it on international fora, the two sides held their first ever Joint Commission Meeting in November 2016 that was co-chaired by Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar and Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of Palestine.

JCM explored possible cooperation in a wide range of sectors that included Information Technology, Security, Youth Affairs and Sports, Education, Health, Agriculture, Tourism and Culture. Akbar and Abbasi had jointly laid the foundation stone for the Palestine-India Techno Park project in Birzeit University, Ramallah.

The project worth $12 million would become the single biggest project supported by India in Palestine till date. India is also setting up an Institute of Diplomacy in Palestine for training of Palestinian diplomats through assistance of $4.5 million. India has doubled the number of scholars for Palestinians to undertake higher studies in India apart from increasing ITEC slots from 80 to 150 and ICCR scholarships from 25 to 50.

Earlier, in a historic visit President Mukherjee travelled to Palestine in October 2015 and stayed in Ramallah. This was followed by External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Palestine in January 2016.




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