Abbas visits India

PA chairman lands in New Delhi for three-day visit ahead of Indian PM's historic trip to Israel.

Contact Editor
Arutz Sheva Staff,

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Reuters

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas landed in New Delhi late Sunday for a three-day visit looking to strengthen ties with India ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic trip to Israel.

Abbas arrived with a delegation for his third state visit to India, where he will hold key talks on bilateral, regional and international issues, including the peace process in the restive Middle East, according to India's foreign ministry.

On Monday -- day one of his visit -- he will zip to an IT centre in Noida, a satellite city outside the Indian capital, aiming to forge greater cooperation in technology.

He is also slated to make an address at New Delhi's India Islamic Cultural Centre in the evening.

On day two, he will meet with Modi, as well as Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj after a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace and laying a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial.

He is scheduled to head back home on Wednesday.

Abbas and Modi will sign several deals "on cooperation in various areas", the foreign ministry said, without providing specific details.

"India and Palestine enjoy historically close and friendly ties," it said in a statement late Saturday, reiterating India's "political support to the Palestinian cause".

New Delhi is hosting Abbas ahead of Modi's unprecedented visit to Israel reportedly in July -- the first-ever by an Indian premier -- with observers calling it a balancing act by India to assuage both sides.

Although there has been no official announcement of his visit so far, Modi told a rally last month that he was "soon going to Israel".

Despite its support for the PA, India and Israel’s relations have thawed in recent years.

In late 2016, India's foreign minister said the country intended to further strengthen its ties with Israel, stressing the relationship is of "utmost importance to the Indian people."

Last month, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed arms contracts with India worth nearly $2 billion, including one for $1.6 billion that is the largest defense pact in the government defense industry’s history.

The deal also includes the sale of LRSAM air and missile defense systems to be built in India for its aircraft carriers. Modi approved the purchase in February.

AFP contributed to this report.