Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a four-day state visit to Palestine, Oman and the UAE on February 9, during which he will hold talks with the leadership in the countries on “matters of mutual interest”, the external affairs ministry announced here today. “This will be the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine, and Modi’s second visit to UAE and first to Oman. During the visit, the prime minister will hold discussions on matters of mutual interest with their leaders, apart from participating in other events,” the ministry said in a release. During his Palestine visit, the prime minister will hold a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who had visited India last May during which Modi had reassured him of India’s “unwavering” support towards the Palestinian cause.
Significantly, Modi’s visit to Palestine comes less than a month after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s India trip. The two leaders had discussed the Palestine issue. After the Modi-Netanyahu talks, Vijay Gokhale, secretary (economic relations) in the external affairs ministry, had said, “What the two sides agreed, that our relationship was much larger than any single issue…that we need to look at it holistically and while we continue to talk to each other, our relationship is not determined by a single issue.”
He was asked whether the long-pending issue of Palestine figured in the talks between the two prime ministers. During his UAE visit, apart from holding talks with the leadership on key issues of defence, security and trade, the prime minister would be addressing the Sixth World Government Summit. The summit is being held in Dubai and India has been extended ‘Guest of Honour’ status, the ministry said. In Oman, Modi’s focus would be on intensifying cooperation in key sectors such as trade and defence.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the bilateral trade and investment between India and Oman remain robust and buoyant. Bilateral trade, which saw a decline during 2014-15 and 2015-16, has resumed its upward trend with an increase of 3.6 per cent from $3.8 billion in 2015-16 to $4 billion in 2016-17, the ministry said. Modi will also meet the Indian community in the UAE and Oman, the release added.