Abbas visit signals a shift

Palestinian President trip may give a role for India in West Asian peace process

Updated - May 14, 2017 10:14 pm IST

Published - May 14, 2017 09:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas waves as he walks with officials after arriving at the Palam Air Force Station in New Delhi on May 14, 2017.

Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas waves as he walks with officials after arriving at the Palam Air Force Station in New Delhi on May 14, 2017.

The visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is likely to give India a chance to assess the future of the West Asian peace process. Commentators said the Palestinian leader who paid a visit to Moscow before landing in Delhi on Sunday would enlighten India’s political leadership about the direction that West Asian peace talks would take in the coming days.

“President Abbas has received support from President Vladimir Putin of Russia, for resumption of peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It is a sign of India’s growing stature, that he has chosen to visit Delhi immediately after visiting Russia and this will help us understand the scope of the support that President Putin has extended,” Zikrur Rahman, former Indian representative to Palestine, said.

The Hindu had reported that there was a growing possibility of India’s participation in the next round of peace talks between Palestine and Israel.

“India is a great nation, with an important role in Asia, and the world. Especially under Prime Minister [Narendra Modi], the government has a strong character, and they could play a part in the Israel-Palestine resolution,” Ambassador Adnan Abu Alhaija said in an interview to the newspaper last week.

President Abbas will hold a bilateral summit with Mr. Modi on Tuesday, and will be hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee.

He will meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

In a pre-arrival announcement, the External Affairs Ministry said the future of the West Asian peace process would be part of the discussions. The visit is a reciprocating gesture following President Mukherjee’s 2015 visit.

MoUs to be signed

“The visit will provide an opportunity for reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral relations, Middle East peace process, regional and international issues. MoUs on cooperation in various areas are expected to be signed during the visit,” the official statement said.

In January, India participated in a multilateral summit in Paris which did not draw participation from Palestine and Israel.

However, the visit of Mr. Abbas, said Mr. Rahman, indicates a willingness to draw India into the nascent peace process.

Mr. Modi, who is scheduled to visit Israel this summer, is expected to boost the process further.

To visit C-DAC

President Abbas will visit the Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC) on Monday, and will deliver a public address at the India Islamic Cultural Centre and hold an interactive session with prominent think tanks at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). Both sides are expected to sign six bilateral agreements, including on agriculture, education, technology and consular services.

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