Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday met the visiting Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to exchange views on the fresh efforts at initiating a peace process in the troubled region, especially the Russian proposal for an end-of-the-month meeting of the ‘Quartet’ of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the U.S., government sources said.
With Dr. Singh scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia next month, the two sides also exchanged notes on Mr. Abbas’ meeting with King Abdullah late last year to discuss the Middle East peace process, and the need for greater international effort to restart the talks.
U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones visited Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia in January this year for holding discussions on “the full range of regional challenges and opportunities at this critical time in the Middle East.” U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in recent statements, have touched upon the need for invigorating the peace process.
India has supported a peaceful resolution of the West Asian conflict, which, it believes, is political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. It has been involved itself in the Palestinian issue since 1947, when it was a member of the U.N. Special Committee that drew up two plans for the future of Palestine. Together with Iran and Yugoslavia, it backed a “minority plan” for a unified state comprising the Jewish and Arab regions.
India has consistently voted against partition and supported a series of U.N. resolutions. In 1974, India recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. In 1988, it became the first non-Arab country to recognise the State of Palestine. Owing to the situation prevailing in Gaza and the West Bank, the PLO Central Council recently approved the extension of Mr. Abbas’ term until elections were held.