Observing that the world cannot afford a “fresh turmoil” in West Asia, India on Monday backed the Arab Peace Initiative for just settlement to the vexed Palestinian issue and hoped that “dialogue will triumph over confrontation” in resolving conflicts.

India has a “high stake” in the peace and stability of the region, which is a “vital part” of its extended neighbourhood, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the members of the Majlis-al-Shura or the Saudi Consultative Council.

“Neither the countries of the region nor the world can afford fresh turmoil,” he said adding, “We sincerely hope that wisdom will prevail and that in the resolution of conflicts and differences, dialogue will triumph over confrontation.”

Dr. Singh, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Saudi Arabia in 28 years, said there is no issue more important for peace and stability in the region than the Palestine question.

“For far too long, the brave people of Palestine have been denied their legitimate and inalienable rights, including most of all the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable Palestine state. I wish to pay a special tribute to His Majesty (the Saudi King) for the initiatives he has taken to bring about a just settlement,” he said.

“We applaud and support the Arab Peace Initiative,” Dr. Singh said referring to the peace plan first proposed in 2002 at the Beirut Summit of the Arab League which attempts to normalise Arab-Israeli ties in exchange of a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and a just settlement of the Palestinian refugee crisis.

Dr. Singh reaffirmed the “principled, strong and consistent” support of the government and people of India for “the struggle of the Palestinian people“.

“India has been making a contribution to the development of the Palestinian economy and its human resources and we will continue to do so,” he said.

The peace process in the Middle East was also high on the agenda of the meeting between Dr. Singh and Saudi King Abdullah here on Sunday night.

The two leaders reviewed ongoing efforts and the latest developments, the Riyadh Declaration issued after the meeting said.

They expressed hope for the early resumption of the peace process in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Plan “with a view to address all the key issues of the dispute comprehensively and within a definite timeframe leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestinian State, in accordance with the two-state solution,” it said.

“The two leaders emphasised that continued building of settlements by Israel constitutes a fundamental stumbling block for the peace process,” the declaration said.

While welcoming the Prime Minister on Monday, Speaker of the Majlis-Al Shura Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh paid tribute to the stand taken by India towards international issues and the support it has extended to the Arab Peace Initiative to reduce tension in West Asia.

“We are confident that India along with the countries of this continent is keen that harmony and peace prevail in this important area of the world,” he said.