New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee Saturday left on a six-day landmark visit to Israel and Palestine, becoming the first Head of Indian State to visit these two nations and providing an opportunity for him to impress upon the leadership there to reduce tensions.
A ceremonial send-off was accorded to the President. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, the three service chiefs and other bureaucrats were present to see off the President.
Mukherjee will first travel to Jordan, where he will be discussing various issues including making a renewed appeal for help in securing release of 39 Indians held by ISIS in Mosul town of Iraq.
After his two-day state visit to Jordan, the President will travel to Palestine on October 12 and then Israel for a three-day visit from October 13.
During the President’s stay in Jordan, India will be looking for opportunities to increase the trade between the countries as Jordan can act as the base for Indian companies to start operations in that region.
Mukherjee will be the first Indian President to travel there in the last 65 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Earlier, Rajiv Gandhi had visited Jordan as Prime Minister in 1988.
The President will meet King Abdullah and have extensive discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral relations, regional and international issues of mutual concern.
He will also visit the University of Jordan and address its students and faculty. He will also grace a function organised by Indian Ambassador in Amman for Indian community and Friends of India. During his visit to Palestine, the President will hold meetings and interactions with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and leaders of major political parties.
He 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.
On the Palestine dispute, he had said that India remains steadfast in its principled support to the Palestinian cause and India has always favoured a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and a united state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital living with recognised and secured borders side by side with Israel as endorsed in the ‘Quartet’ roadmap.
From there, the President will travel to Israel during which the highlight of his visit will be his address to its Parliament Knesset, which is a rare honour for any visiting leader.
Mukherjee will hold 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 established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 and since then the relationship has evolved into a multi-dimensional partnership.
India and Israel are engaged in a range of issues of bilateral interest including cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, education and the visit will further cement bonds of cooperation between the two sides and enhance mutual understanding.
During the visit to Palestine and Israel, the President will lay a special emphasis on resuming the stalled dialogue process between Israel and Palestine since September last year.