India Abroad

Leaving For 3-Nation Tour Today, PM Modi To Become First Indian PM To Visit Palestine

| February 9 , 2018 , 12:22 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who became the first Indian PM to visit Israel will now also become the first ever Indian PM to visit Palestine. Around 6 months after the visit to Israel, PM Modi on Friday will be leaving for a 3-nation tour that will begin by visiting Palestine, then the United Arab Emirates and conclude with a visit to Oman.

"This will be the first-ever Prime Ministerial visit to Palestine from India," PM Modi said in a statement.

"I am looking forward to my discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas and reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine," the statement said.

To reach Palestine, PM Modi will be travelling to the capital of Jordan, Amman, from where he would take a chopper ride to reach the Palestinian city of Ramallah around 100km away located in the West Bank, which serves as the de-facto capital of Palestine as well as hosting the the Palestinian Authority's presidential headquarters.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has met PM Modi a few times in the past, welcomed the Indian leader in "a significant" visit by a "grand guest".

India formally recognised Palestine as an independent state in 1988, although it has supported the Palestinian cause for more than 5 decades. However, India's policy towards Israel-Palestine has undergone a significant shift since PM Modi's NDA government came to power in 2014, recognising the nations as independent and separate.

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"Now we see them both as mutually independent and exclusive and as part of this policy Prime Minister is undertaking this visit," B Bala Bhaskar, joint secretary of the foreign ministry said earlier this week.

In December, India, along with 127 other nations, voted in support of a United Nations resolution against US President Donald Trump's recognition of the contested city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

During the visit to Israel, PM Modi faced flak for not visiting Palestine as well, which is a general tendency of visitors to combine meets to both the conflicting nations.