Ramallah (Palestine): India was working for closer political interaction and deeper economic engagement with Palestine, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Sunday.
“We have also started to put in motion the framework suggested by our president for the future of our partnership during his visit,” she said referring to President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Palestine in October last year.
“Accordingly, we are working for closer political interaction and deeper economic engagement with Palestine,” she said while inaugurating the India-Palestine Digital Learning and Innovation Centre at the campus of the Al Quds University here.
The centre is part of India's capacity-building efforts in Palestine.
“We are also looking at ways and means to further increase academic collaboration between India and Palestine,” the minister said
Stating that she was happy to inaugurate the centre, she said this was yet “another example of India’s commitment to help its brothers and sisters in Palestine”.
Sushma Swaraj, who held bilateral talks with her Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al Maliki and called on President Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the day, said her talks with the two leaders were “fruitful”.
“I am coming here after fruitful discussions with President Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki on a wide range of bilateral, multilateral and regional issues,” she said.
“In my meetings, I was happy to see that we have shared views on issues and there is great warmth in our friendship.
“We also discussed India’s capacity building assistance to the people of Palestine of which this Center is a shining example.”
Sushma Swaraj said this was her first visit abroad in 2016 and Palestine her first destination.
“This in itself reflects the importance Palestine holds for India.”
She said the fact that her visit was taking place shortly after President Mukherjee's visit “also reflects our keen interest in further deepening the very rich and historic relationship that we have with Palestine”.
“India's solidarity with the Palestinian people and its principled support to the Palestinian cause is rooted in our own freedom struggle,” she said.
According to the minister, India's approach to Palestine has crystallised into a policy with three core dimensions -- solidarity with the Palestinian people; support to the Palestinian cause; and support to Palestine's nation-building and capacity-building efforts.
“The entire Indian political leadership remains steadfastly committed to these policies,” she said.
Sushma Swaraj said India's strengths in IT and IT-enabled services could immensely benefit the Palestinian economy and society.
“We are ready to assist Palestine in IT, as well as other sectors, as much as we can,” she said adding that India would build another centre for excellence in ICT and innovation in Gaza city.
“We are also developing a techno-park in Ramallah. President Abbas views the techno-park as a transformative project,” she said.
She said India’s empathy with the Palestinian cause and the friendship with the Palestinian people remained undiluted.
“This is an integral part of our foreign policy,” she said.
“We will also continue to support the developmental aspirations of the Palestinian people by all possible mean at our disposal.”
Earlier on Sunday, apart from her meetings with Al Maliki and Abbas, who hosted a lunch in her honour, she paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his bust, which is placed at the Garden of Nations here.
She also paid tributes at the mausoleum of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat here.
Sushma Swaraj, who landed in Tel Aviv late on Saturday, reached Ramallah, the administrative capital of Palestine, on Sunday morning.
Later in the day, she proceeded to Israel where she will meet the top Israeli leadership.