Diplomatic Correspondent

NEW DELHI: "Arab issues occupy a prominent place in India's foreign policy priorities and India has extended principled and consistent support to causes dear to the Arab world," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.

In a message read out by Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed at the Arab League summit in Khartoum on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said: "We are happy that there is regular high-level interaction and dialogue in all fields between India and the Arab countries."

On his part, Mr. Ahamed told the Arab League summit that India welcomed the holding of free and fair elections by the Palestinians. These elections, the Minister stated, strengthened the democratic process, with wide participation of the Palestinian people through peaceful polling.

Referring to the "great complementarity" between the economies of India and the Arab nations, Mr. Ahamed said, "The latter are an important source of our energy, a growing destination of our investments, an expanding market for our goods, and about 4.5 million Indians living in these countries contribute to their economies, including in the Gulf."

"We encourage Arab nations to take advantage of the booming Indian economy and direct their investments to India. The Arab world and India are very much part of each other's strategic neighbourhood," he added.