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Indian PM makes historic visit to Palestine
11 February 2018, 05:11 | Damon Campbell
Indian PM Modi visits Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Shiva temple
In honor of Modi's visit, the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building in Dubai, displayed the Indian flag on its massive LED light display.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Palestinian Foreign Ministry undersecretary Tayseer Jaradat said talks between the two leaders will focus on Palestinian efforts to get global sponsorship of peace talks with Israel. He emphasized the importance of diplomacy and far-sightedness, and lauded the Palestinian people's courage, which he said was exemplary. "India hopes that soon Palestine will become a free country in a peaceful manner". The prime minister's visit will begin from Palestine on Feb 10 after transiting through Jordan, where he will meet King Abdullah II.
President Abbas also conferred the "Grand Collar of the State of Palestine" on Modi, recognising his key contribution to promote ties between India and Palestine.
Modi's visit will be his second to the UAE since becoming Prime Minister in 2014.
India's relationship with Israel has seen a significant development in the past few years, crowned with a recent multi-million dollars deal with Israel in military and hi-tech sectors.
Officials have said India continues to support the Palestinian cause, and that Modi's visit is aimed at helping build up the Palestinians' capacity in the health, information technology and education areas.
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India's refusal to support the USA moves to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital disappointed Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told India Today in an exclusive interview that his government was, "naturally", disappointed.
The Prime Minister, who arrived at Ramallah's Presidential compound earlier in the day, laid a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, whom he described as "a great leader. and a very close friend of the Indian people".
PM Modi had skipped Palestine when he had visited Israel in July 2017 to signal his Government's decision to treat both nations as "mutually independent and exclusive".
Trump in December shocked the Palestinians by breaking with decades of U.S. policy and recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital. This time Modi skipped in a clear message that is de-hyphenating its ties with and Palestine. This is PM's first visit to the country and also the first visit by an Indian PM in 30 years.
"We count on India's role as an worldwide force of great prestige and weight", Abbas said, noting "its rising power at the strategic and economic levels" that could "contribute to the achievement of a just peace in our region".
Modi also will visit the United Arab Emirates and Oman, where there are sizable communities of expatriate Indian workers, before returning to India.
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