India concerned over Israel blocking aid to Gaza Strip

December 3rd, 2008 - 11:09 am ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Dec.3 (ANI): India on Tuesday evening expressed concern over reported moves by Israel to block humanitarian aid to the Palestine-held Gaza Strip.
“We remain concerned at the adverse effects of the closure of access points into the Strip (and) on the prevailing humanitarian situation,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a meeting of the India-Arab Forum hosted by the Indian Council of World Affairs.
Mukherjee also said peace and stability in West Asia is of paramount importance to India.
“India has constantly supported the quest of the Palestinian people for a homeland in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Mukherjee said.
Observing that the dialogue process to find a solution to the Palestinian issue should continue, he called for an end to the expansion of Israeli settlements.
Later addressing a round-table on ”India-Arab Historical Linkages and Civilisational Dialogue”, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed said: “The Arab world has always figured very high in India’’s foreign policy priorities. In modern times, traditional bonds have further strengthened and diversified as our ties have steadily developed,” Ahamed said.
“In recent decades, the Arab world has has become our primary source of energy, a growing market for our goods, an important destination for our investment, and a region that provides livelihood to millions of Indians working in the region,” Ahamed said.
“We wish to work together to enable and ensure a framework for future generations to consolidate our ties in emerging sectors of the economy,” Ahamed said.
India has strong economic ties with the Arab world as the nation’’s trade with countries in the region has nearly quadrupled from eight billion dollars in 2000 to 30 billion dollars in 2007-08.
Earlier on Tuesday, India and Arab League today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up of a joint forum for cooperation to enhance their ties in various fields, including trade and commerce, culture and communication technology.
The Arab League also extended support to New Delhi in its fight against terrorism saying there was a need to “stand firm” in tackling the menace.
Visiting Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa said every body should join hands to root out terrorism and piracy.
“This is a responsibility on our shoulders. All of us should stand firm against terrorism and against piracy,” Moussa told a news agency in New Delhi.
On the economic front, Moussa said both countries should enhance economic ties as it was “very important” to negate the effects of global economic slowdown.
“We are now quadrupling the economic exchange in trade, investment and other avenues of economic activities,” he said.
India’’s trade with Arab League nations is witnessing rapid growth and could top USD 100 billion in the next four years, he said. (ANI)

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