Tharoor meets Abbas, assures India’s support to Palestine

New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Friday met Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor who reassured the visiting leader of New Delhi’s support for peace and development in the Middle East.

‘(I had an) excellent meeting with President Abbas and (Foreign Minister Riyad al) Maliki of Palestine,’ Tharoor wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter, shortly after the meeting.

Tharoor said he had a ‘thorough discussion’ on the political situation and peace process in the Middle East. He also assured Abbas and Maliki of ‘Indian help for Palestine’, the minister added.

Abbas arrived in New Delhi Thursday on a two-day unannounced visit to India. The trip comes even as he came under a cloud after a leading Israeli television channel broadcast a tape showing Abbas’ aide allegedly trying to receive sexual favours from a Palestinian woman.

The meeting with Tharoor comes a day after Abbas met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who announced $10 million aid for Palestine.

Manmohan Singh in his meeting with Abbas reiterated India’s commitment to the Palestinian cause in line with United Nations Security Council calling for a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine.

‘The prime minister announced a grant of $10 million as budget support to the Palestinian National Authority and reassured Abbas of India’s support for economic and social development,’ an official said.

Manmohan Singh hosted a dinner for Abbas and his delegation. The two leaders held discussions on the fresh efforts at initiating a peace process in the volatile Middle East region.

‘They also discussed the Russian proposal for a meeting of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the US (the Quartet working for peace in the Middle East),’ the official said.

The visit of the Palestinian president comes about a fortnight ahead of Manmohan Singh’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

India has been supporting a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict. In 1974 it recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. India in 1988 became the first non-Arab country to recognise the state of Palestine.

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