Indian Foreign Minister Holds Talks with Arafat

Published July 1st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh met Palestinian president Yasser Arafat in Ramallah Friday on the highest-level visit yet by an Indian official to Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

"The Indian position regarding the Palestinians is steadfast in support of the rights of the Palestinian people," Singh told reporters after an hour-long meeting with Arafat. "They should have a stable area that is internationally recognized." 

Singh is scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip on Saturday to open two library projects funded by India. 

He is due back in Israel Saturday night. 

Singh's trip to Israel follows one by India's Home Minister L.K. Advani two weeks ago, which focused heavily on the issue of cross-border terrorism. 

The Indian foreign minister is also to meet Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Barak, President Ezer Weizman and Foreign Minister David Levy, after the Jewish Sabbath, which ends at sundown on Saturday. 

An embassy official said Singh's four-day visit was primarily designed to improve bilateral ties with Israel, but stressed that it would "not focus on defense relations." 

He said India and Israel have "an active" defense relationship, without providing further details. 

Analysts have said there is growing defense collaboration between the two countries - RAMALLAH (AFP)  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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