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India-Palestine aim to bolster economic ties

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Sushma Swaraj
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Palestine: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Sunday that India was working towards closer political interaction with Palestine. It also intends for deeper economic engagement with them.

“We have also started to put in motion the framework suggested by our president for the future of our partnership during his visit,” she said referring to President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Palestine in October last year.

“Accordingly, we are working for closer political interaction and deeper economic engagement with Palestine,” she said while inaugurating the India-Palestine Digital Learning and Innovation Centre at the campus of the Al Quds University here. The centre is part of India’s capacity-building efforts in Palestine.

“We are also looking at ways and means to further increase academic collaboration between India and Palestine,” the minister said.

Elated at the centre’s inauguration, she said this was yet “another example of India’s commitment to helping its brothers and sisters in Palestine”.

Sushma Swaraj, who held bilateral talks with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al Maliki and called on President Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the day, said her talks with the two leaders were “fruitful”.

“I am coming here after fruitful discussions with President Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki on a wide range of bilateral, multilateral and regional issues,” she said.

“In my meetings, I was happy to see that we have shared views on issues and there is great warmth in our friendship.

“We also discussed India’s capacity building assistance to the people of Palestine of which this Center is a shining example.”

Sushma Swaraj mentioned this was her first visit abroad in 2016 and Palestine her first destination.

“This in itself reflects the importance Palestine holds for India.”

She said the fact that her visit was taking place shortly after President Mukherjee’s visit “also reflects our keen interest in further deepening the very rich and historic relationship that we have with Palestine”.

“India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its principled support to the Palestinian cause is rooted in our own freedom struggle,” she said.

According to the minister, India’s approach to Palestine has crystallised into a policy with three core dimensions — solidarity with the Palestinian people; support to the Palestinian cause; and support to Palestine’s nation-building and capacity-building efforts.

“The entire Indian political leadership remains steadfastly committed to these policies,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj said India’s strengths in IT and IT-enabled services could immensely benefit the Palestinian economy and society.

“We are ready to assist Palestine in IT, as well as other sectors, as much as we can,” she said adding that India would build another centre for excellence in ICT and innovation in Gaza city.

“We are also developing a techno-park in Ramallah. President Abbas views the techno-park as a transformative project,” she said.

She said India’s empathy with the Palestinian cause and the friendship with the Palestinian people remained undiluted.

“This is an integral part of our foreign policy,” she said.

“We will also continue to support the developmental aspirations of the Palestinian people by all possible mean at our disposal.”

Earlier on Sunday, apart from her meetings with Al Maliki and Abbas, who hosted a lunch in her honour, she paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his bust, which is placed at the Garden of Nations here.

She also paid tributes at the mausoleum of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat here.

Sushma Swaraj, who landed in Tel Aviv late on Saturday, reached Ramallah, the administrative capital of Palestine, on Sunday morning.

Later in the day, she proceeded to Israel where she will meet the top Israeli leadership. (IANS)

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Narendra Modi to Inaugurate Abu Dhabi’s First Hindu Temple

As of now, there is only one Hindu temple located in UAE, which is situated in Dubai

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will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons

On his next visit to the United Arab Emirates as part of his West Asia tour starting 9 February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inaugurating first-ever Hindu temple to be constructed in Abu Dhabi as reported by Economic Times.

During Modi’s visit to the oil-rich nation in 2015, around 20,000 square metres of land was allotted for the construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba.

According to the records, UAE is home to as many as 2.6 million Indians, who form around 30 percent of the total population of the country. As of now, there is only one Hindu temple located in UAE, which is situated in Dubai.

Prime Minister Modi visit to UAE will kick start on 10 February. After landing in Abu Dhabi, he will be travelling to Dubai the next day. On a three-day event in Dubai to which India has been invited as the guest country, Modi will be addressing a large gathering of Indians in Dubai Opera on 11 February sixth World Government Summit.

After the Prime Minister’s visit in 2015, India’s relations with the UAE have seen some remarkable advancements. On India’s 68th Republic Day celebration, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyanthe was honoured as the chief guest. Just after that visit of Zayed Al Nahyanthe, UAE initiated a USD 75 billion sovereign funds for India.
Interestingly, UAE remains to be India’s number one trading partner and the current annual trade between the two countries stands at around USD 53 billion.

Following UAE’s visit, Prime Minister Modi will be visiting two other countries in West Asia – Palestine and Oman. The visit to Palestine will be first Indian Prime Minister to the country in seven decades. Last year, Modi had visited Israel, the arch-rival of Palestine and hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a six-day visit to India between 14-19 January.