India: The peace broker
Beginning February 9, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a three-nation state visit to Palestine, UAE, and Oman. The Indian Prime Minister will also have a stopover in the Jordanian capital Amman where he will meet the King of Jordan before leaving for the city of Ramallah in Palestine. Besides a brief stopover in Amman, Prime Minister Modi will visit Palestine, Oman and UAE, which clearly indicates that he is out to meet some important world leaders of the West Asian and Arab world. Both Oman and UAE have a sizeable Indian population residing in the two countries as expatriate workers. PM Modi will hold bilateral talks with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday and will leave for the UAE on Sunday. He will arrive in Oman on February 11 and leave for Delhi on February 12. Cooperations in the field of energy, security, trade, investments and counter-terror efforts figure prominently in his agenda. "We are looking at this visit not only from the extended neighbourhood perspective but also from the maritime perspective," External Affairs Ministry (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing in New Delhi. The Indian Prime Minister's visit to the three Arab world nations also aims to boost bilateral cooperations in the areas of health, IT, tourism, youth affairs, sports and agriculture. Prime Minister Modi is slated to deliver the keynote address at the Sixth World Government Summit in Dubai on February 11.
In an interview, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah has called the Indian Prime Minister a world leader who, thanks to his stature and popularity among the leaders of West Asian countries, can help resolve the protracted animosity between Palestine and Israel. He also praised the Indian Prime Minister's speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos where he urged the world leaders to work out a joint action plant to combat climate change and exhorted them to work towards a truly global business environment devoid of protectionism. Hamdallah also said that the rise of India as a political and economic power is great news for developing countries like Palestine as it will expand existing cooperation between the two nations and also open up new areas of bilateral cooperation. He also regretted the fact that its envoy had shared the dais with Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan earlier. After the incident and India's protests, Palestine had said that the envoy made a mistake in sharing the dais with Saeed and was recalled from Pakistan. On its part, India had voted against the US in the United Nations for unilaterally recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their own and the presence of the Indian Prime Minister in Palestine is significant as it counters the US recognition of the occupied part of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Jerusalem is one of the oldest and holiest places in the world. It is recognised as the birthplace of three widely followed religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. About three weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had come to India on a six-day state visit and had wide-ranging talks on several key issues besides signing a number of business and security deals. The Indian Prime Minister had paid a visit to Israel in July last year but de-hyphenating its relations with the two warring countries, he chose not to visit Palestine at that time. The idea was that India recognises the importance of its relationship with both the countries irrespective of the fact that the two nations are embroiled in a long and bloody war. So, when he finally travels to Palestine, he will not only be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the war-ravaged country, but also the first Indian Prime Minister to look at the two countries in separate perspectives. Late last year, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid a visit to Delhi and this time when Modi meets Abbas in his country, this would be their fourth meeting. The beginning of Indian prime minister's visit to Palestine, Oman and UAE has been preceded by a discussion between him and US President Donald Trump over the phone. The White House has said in a statement that the two leaders have discussed Maldives, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and North Korea. All these four nations represent the volatile fault lines in the region. And, a strict international vigil is required over these nations before tensions within these countries flare up and pose a threat to regional peace and international security. India is slowly being recognised for its ability to broker peace among warring nations or within a nation.