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India has strong interests in Arab world: Swaraj

Sushma Swaraj1

India today said it has “strong interests” in the Arab world and is firmly committed to its various causes, including resolution of the Palestine- Israel issue.

“Our strong traditional support to the Palestinian cause remains unwavering even as we pursue good relations with Israel. We commend the Egyptian role in bringing about a ceasefire in last year’s Israel-Gaza conflict,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.

“We have strong interests in the Arab world and have been strongly committed to its various causes. We have been supportive of your aspirations regarding the resolution of the Palestine-Israel issue,” she said addressing a select group of strategic thinkers and policy makers here.

Swaraj said that India was concerned about the “growth of terrorism and of sectarian violence” in the region and stands committed to support efforts to fight the challenge.

She said India feels there is a need to develop a broader approach based on dialogue to shift from an atmosphere of “mistrust and violence towards one which exudes confidence in peace and development.

Noting that Arab region was important for India, she said millions of Indians work in this region and contribute to its economy.

“Our political exchanges are frequent and we are strong partners in the emerging structures both political-security as well as economic.

“But most importantly, we share historic ties of exchanges between people and ideas, of trade and commerce, of language and literature and are bound together in bonds that make us brothers,” she said.

Stressing on people-to-people contact, she said: “We are pursuing the setting up of an India Chair in one of your Universities. This will be the first in the Arab world.

“We are impressed with your rich civilisation and would wish to strengthen exchanges. We wish to focus on youth, academic, media and cultural exchanges. We have always maintained that an investment in people-to-people contacts, particularly of the youth, provides a strong base for a durable partnership.

“The goodwill that exists on both sides will then propel our relations in various other sectors as well,” she said.

Swaraj later visited the National Museum across the iconic Tahrir Square, scene of massive demonstrations during the January, 2011 revolution that toppled the longtime president Hosni Mubarak.