India to gift embassy building to Palestine

October 5th, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) In a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, India will gift a piece of prized real estate in the capital’s elite diplomatic enclave for building the embassy of the Palestinian National Authority to President Mahmoud Abbas this week. Abbas will lay the foundation stone of the chancery-cum-residence complex of the embassy of Palestine, likely Tuesday, and formally dedicate the building to the people of Palestine from the people of India.

The complex is being built as a gift of the government and the people of India in Chanakyapuri, the external affairs ministry said in a statement ahead of Abbas’ four-day state visit.

The gift underscores India’s unwavering solidarity and commitment to an independent Palestine and is seen by some as a balancing exercise in view of its growing relations with Israel.

With some critics accusing the Manmohan Singh government of betraying the Palestinian cause, New Delhi has designated Abbas’ trip as “state visit” to underline its special ties with the Palestinian people.

The visit comes at a time when the West Asia peace process is under strain even as India is increasingly seen as a credible interlocutor by Palestine and Israel due to its excellent relations with both sides.

Foreign Minister of the Palestine National Authority (PNA) Riyad Al-Maliki and other senior officials will be accompanying Abbas on this state visit to India.

Abbas will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discuss with him a host of issues relating to the reconstruction of Palestine and latest developments regarding the peace process in West Asia.

He will also meet President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

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