Syria wants India to play more pro-active role in West Asia

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New Delhi, Jun 16 (UNI) Syria today implored India to play a more pro-active role in resolving the West Asia crisis and end the Israeli occupation of Gaza and occupied territories.

Speaking to reporters on the eve of the State visit of Syrian President Bashar al Assad to India, the first by a leader of that level from that country in 30 years, a senior Syrian Minister said the Arab world highly appreciated India's support for the Arab cause.

''The visit is taking place at a time when indirect negotiations take place between Syria and Israel under the auspices of Turkey...

India has always been a country seeking peace and dignity. It has more potential with Arab countries. India fought against colonisation and understands the problem,'' said Dr. (Mrs) Bouthaina Shaaban, Syrian Minister for Expatriates.

The Syrian President is arriving here tomorrow on a three-day State visit during which the two countries will sign five agreements, including on Avoidance of Double Taxation, to promote trade and investment and on agricultural cooperation.

Asked about India's expanding relations with Israel, Dr Shaaban declined comment saying it was for India to decide its relations.

She hoped that the Indo-Israeli relations would not have an impact on India's relations with the Arab world and its stand towards the Arab cause.

She deplored the ''silence'' of the international community towards the plight of Palestinians in occupied territories and said it was surprising that the world ''is not speaking much louder'' on the issue.

Refuting the reports of disunity among Arab nations, she said it was a ''misleading concept''.

There were some parties which had some intentions in projecting Arabs as divided. ''The situation is not as bad as some people try to project,'' she said adding that the Arab situation now was much better than what it was earlier.

''Arabs would have been in better shape had external interference not been there,'' she said.

About the visit of President Bashar al Assad, Dr Shaaban said it was an indication of the strong bonds between India and the Arab world.

''Arabs appreciate India's role (towards the West Asia crisis).

India is a country which always understands the suffering of the colonised people. We hope that the visit will give a very good impetus to India-Syria relations,'' Dr Shaaban said.

She said many agreements would be signed during the visit but declined to give details.

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