India's support to Palestine has not wavered: Pranab

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New Delhi, Dec 12 (UNI) India today asserted that its support to the Palestinian cause had not wavered and is working on several projects together with the Palestinian National Authority including assisting the Palestinian refugees at the Nahr al-Bared Camp in North Lebanon.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Consultative Committee on External Affairs that India supports a negotiated settlement for a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine within secure and recognised borders living side by side at peace with Israel as endorsed in the Roadmap and UNSC Resolutions 1397 and 1515.

Continuing the discussions on 'Progress under SAARC' and 'India's partnership with African countries' from the previous meeting of July 18, the Committee also covered the issue of India's bilateral relations with West Asian countries.

Mr Mukherjee who chaired the meeting, emphasised that India's engagements with West Asian countries in political, economic, cultural and other fields had grown considerably and it had emerged as an important region whose stability and security has a direct relevance for India.

The Minister said India supports the Quartet Roadmap of 2003 and the Arab Peace Initiative, resumption of dialogue on Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria Tracks and believes that these have to be addressed for comprehensive and durable peace in the region.

''India's support to the Palestinian cause has not wavered. India recognised the PLO as a representative of the Palestinian people in 1975 and was one of the first countries to recognise the State of Palestine in 1988,'' he told the meeting.

Speaking about the significant humanitarian contribution that India has made to the Palestinian people, who are coping with multiple challenges, the Minister said that together with the Palestine National Authority, India is working on several development projects.

These include a cardiac hospital in Gaza, a school in Abu Dis and an IT Centre at the Al Quds University.

India has also rushed life-saving drugs for Palestinian civilians affected by the conflict. In consultation with the Lebanese government, India is working to assist the Palestinian refugees at the Nahr al-Bared Camp in North Lebanon.

The Minister informed the Committee that India was invited to attend the Middle East Peace Conference in Annapolis held on November 27.

In its statement at the Conference, India applauded the Joint Understanding reached by Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to launch a vigorous, ongoing and continuing bilateral negotiations for a negotiated solution of the core issues that will lead to establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side in mutual peace and prosperity with Israel.

The Minister also briefed the Members on India's bilateral relations with other countries in the region like Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

He also informed the Members that Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed would attend the International Donors Conference for Palestine at Paris on December 17.

UNI

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