OTHERS

India, Israel begin diplomatic engagement

NEW DELHI, NOV. 15. Israel has begun a new round of diplomatic engagement with India to help stop the spiral of violence and revive the stalled West Asian peace process.

Israel's Deputy Director General (Asia and Pacific), Mr. Zvi Gabay, is already in India to discuss the latest stand- off between the Israelis and Palestinians. He has met the Secretary (east) in the foreign office, Mr. K.V Rajan, and senior officials.

In an informal chat with the media this morning, Mr. Gabay said he was looking towards India for exerting its influence to end the violence between the Israelis and Palestinians so that the core objective of reviving the stalled peace talks could be achieved.

In response to a question, Mr. Gabay said Israel was ready to discuss all issues with the Palestinians including the status of the walled city of Jerusalem. He held the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Mr. Yasser Arafat responsible for the recent spurt in violence.

Mr. Gabay pointed out that the current political crisis in Israel had increased the cohesion of all the groups participating in the Israel's ruling coalition government.

The visit assumes importance as Israel is aware of India's capacity to influence the Palestinian leadership. The West Asian peace process was a key area of discussion during the visit of the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, to Israel and Palestine earlier this year. The United States has also urged India to contribute to the peace process.