India applauds Palestinian, Israeli accord

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Washington, Nov 28 (UNI) India has applauded the Joint Understanding reached between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to seek a final-status peace accord by the end of next year, ending a seven year stalemate in the peace process.

Science, Technology and Earth Sciences Minister Kapil Sibal, who led the Indian delegation to conference held here yesterday to promote Arab-Israeli peace said the conference sponsored by the United States would lead to the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestine, living in peace and prosperity with the State of Israel.

''It proceeds on the assumption that violence and engagement are mutually incompatible,'' he said.

US President George W Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had made a ''signal contribution'' to facilitate this historic agreement, he said.

''We pay rich tribute to the courage, wisdom and statesmanship displayed by the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships to take risks in the cause of a just and lasting peace between two people who though divided by many complex and emotive issues are nevertheless joined by common geography and history,'' the Indian minister said.

Mr Sibal said negotiations should be bilateral as was emphasised repeatedly in the Joint Understanding.

''However, at the specific request by the parties, the United States has agreed to assist them in the monitoring and judging the fulfillment of the commitments undertaken by both sides of the road map. This should reassure the parties and help in creating an atmosphere of confidence,'' he said.

The Indian minister hoped that the West Asia Peace Process would address the unfinished agenda on the Lebanon and Syria tracks. The Arab Peace Initiative, re-launched in Saudi Arabia in March this year, provides a constructive framework for achieving such a comprehensive peace.


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