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Modi becomes first Indian PM to visit West Bank

Modi has embarked on a historic visit to the Palestinian territories [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 February, 2018

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Indian premier Narendra Modi met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as part of a four-day tour of the Middle East.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Ramallah Saturday as part of a four-day Middle East tour, becoming the first Indian premier to visit the West Bank.

Modi was welcomed with a guard of honour, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greeted the Indian leader at his presidential compound.

Modi's historic trip to Ramallah follows a visit to Amman where he met Jordan's King Abdullah II at his palace Friday.

He then made the short flight to the West Bank by helicopter, escorted by Jordanian and Israeli choppers.

Modi was presented with the Grand Collar of the State of Palestine by Modi at his palace, the highest order for foreign dignitaries. 

"In recognition of his wise leadership and his lofty national and international stature, and in appreciation of his efforts to promote the historic relations between the State of Palestine and the Republic of India; In acknowledgement of his support to our people's right to independence and freedom so that peace prevails in the region," the commendation read, the Indian Express reported.

Modi also laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Yasser Arafat and visited a museum named after the late Palestinian leader.

Traditionally left-leaning New Delhi has been one of the strongest international supporters of the Palestinian cause. 

That changed when Modi warmed ties with Israel, agreeing a host of economic, defence and intelligence deals with its former rival.

He became the first Indian leader to visit Israel last year. Despite the change in relations, Modi insists India will back Palestine's right to statehood.

Modi will return to Jordan before flying to the Gulf with visits to Oman and the UAE.

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