With the issue of regional peace high on agenda, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday left on a six-day visit to the West Asian nations of Jordan, Palestine and Israel. The visit is already dubbed as a crucial one for the President would be the first Head of Indian State to visit these strife-torn Israel and Palestine. India has traditionally emphasised on strengthening the ties with Palestine.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and the chiefs of three armed forces accorded a ceremonial send-off to the President as he embarked upon the three-nation visit.
President Mukherjee will begin his tour from Jordan, where he will be taking up the crucial issue of securing the release of 39 Indian nationals held captive by the militia of terror syndicate Islamic State (IS) in Mosul town of Iraq. Whereas, in Israel and Palestine, the President is expected to impress upon the leadership of the two states to work in the direction of reducing regional tension.
During his two day stay in Jordan, the President will be emphasising on enhancing the opportunities to increase the trade between India and Jordan. President Pranab Mukherjee will be the first Indian President to visit Jordan in the last 65 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Earlier, late Rajiv Gandhi had visited Jordan as Prime Minister in 1988.
In Jordan, the President is scheduled to meet King Abdullah where the two Head of the States will hold extensive discussions on strengthening bilateral relations through addressing the regional and international issues of mutual concern. Later in his visit, President Mukherjee will address the students and faculty of the University of Jordan. He will also grace a function organised by Indian Ambassador in Amman for Indian community and the group ‘Friends of India’.
After the two-day Jordan visit, President Mukherjee will embark upon his day’s visit to conflict-ridden Palestine on October 12. He is slated to hold meetings and interactions with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and leaders of major political parties.
On the Palestine dispute, he had said that India remains steadfast in its principled support to the Palestinian cause.
“India has always supported the Palestinian people in pursuing their legitimate aspiration for a sovereign, independent and viable State. India wishes to see your realisation of a State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, existing within secure and recognised borders side by side and in peace with Israel,” President Pranab Mukherjee had said at a banquet in the honour Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during the latter’s visit to India in September 2012.
During his visit, the President will also address the Al Quds University where he will be conferred an honorary doctorate after which he will inaugurate Jawaharlal Nehru Secondary School at Abu Dees in East Jerusalem.
Concluding his day long visit to Palestine, President Mukherjee will begin his three-day visit of Isreal starting October 13. The highlight of this visit will be his address to Israel Parliament Knesset, which is a rare honour for any visiting leader.
President Mukherjee will also be holding talks with his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin and meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli-Yoel Edelstein. The discussions are expected on subjects like terrorism and cooperation in various areas. MoUs in the fields of culture, education, science and technology will be signed.
India and Israel are engaged in a range of issues of bilateral interest including cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, education and the visit is seen as a step forward to further cement the bond between the two sides.
During the visit to Palestine and Israel, the President will lay a special emphasis on resuming the stalled dialogue process between the two nations since September last year.
(With inputs from the PTI)