‘India committed to advancing ties with Arab world’

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speaking at the First India-League of Arab States Media Symposium in New Delhi on Thursday.— Photo: PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speaking at the First India-League of Arab States Media Symposium in New Delhi on Thursday.— Photo: PTI  

Clarifying India’s stand on the Israel-Gaza conflict, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said the country’s policy continued to be of extending “strong support to the Palestinian cause while maintaining good relations with Israel.”

“India is deeply concerned at the loss of large number of civilian lives in Gaza. We have called on both sides to exercise maximum restraint and work towards a comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue. Apart from strong political support to the Palestinian cause at international, regional and bilateral levels, India has been contributing budgetary, economic and developmental assistance to Palestine and its people,” she said, addressing the first India-League of Arab States Media Symposium here.

Underlining the need for peace and stability in the Arab world, she said the repercussions of instability and terrorism in the region were being felt far and wide, and cited the case of Indian nationals in captivity in Mosul as an example.

“Being a longstanding partner of the Arab world, we in India are also deeply concerned over the rise of fanaticism, extremism and terrorism in parts of the region. We are concerned over the stability of these countries where terrorism and fanaticism are tearing apart the fabric of societies and also concerned over the spill-over effect on regional stability. This concern is but natural as the fates of our two regions are intertwined in many ways. Our national and energy interests are certainly important but more important is the human bond. The continued captivity of 40 innocent Indian workers in Mosul and the holding of seven Indian sea farers in prolonged custody by pirates in Somalia have brought home to ordinary Indians searing impact of regional instability in parts of the Arab world,” Ms. Swaraj said.

The Minister said India had been keenly watching the developments unravelling in the Arab countries post-Arab Spring and was keen to offer support without interference. “India continues to be guided by the principles of being non-interfering, non-prescriptive and non-judgmental. In other words, India remains ready to provide any support, but strongly believes that it is for the Arab countries to decide their destiny, without any external interference or diktats.”

Reaching out to the Arab world, Ms. Swaraj said the NDA government was committed to advancing the relationship with all countries in the region to mutual advantage. She said: “India sees West Asia as a vital part of its extended neighbourhood as it accounts for over 60 per cent of India’s oil and gas requirements. Collectively the Arab world is India’s largest trading partner...”

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