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Gondwanaland Expedition reaches Israel

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Jerusalem, Apr 17 (UNI) The Gondwanaland Expedition from India, tracing the continental history of Asia and Africa, has crossed Syria and Turkey to reach Israel.

The team members had handed over a goodwill message from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Syrian counterpart Mohammad Naji Ottri when they called on him in Damascus.

"Mr Ottri took great interest in the exploratory studies being conducted by the expedition scientists and wanted Syria and India to collaborate more closely on issues of science and technology," expedition leader Akhil Bakshi said.

The expedition, flagged off from Shimla last month, had passed through Iran before entering Turkey with the snow-covered massif of the picturesque Mount Ararat I and II looming large in the horizon.

A group of Indian scientists are part of the expedition, which would traverse a 35,000-km journey by road from the Himalayas to the Cape Agulhas in South Africa to study the history of the continents of Asia and Africa that were a single landmass once upon a time.

The journey by road across 17 countries in 100 days is named the 'Gondwanaland Expedition' and the 10-member team has two geologists and a seismologist, an anthropologist, botanist and zoologist each.

"India was millions of years ago a part of Gondwanaland and was separated from Madagascar and the north eastern part of Africa," Mr Bakshi, who is chairman of the Science and Exploration Committee of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said.

According to Mr Bakshi, the rest of the journey through Turkey was through the disturbed South eastern Anatolia region where the Kurd separatist movement has once again raised its head. Four days before the expedition entered the region, there had been violent protests leading to shooting of some activists by the government forces.

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