India’s Modi, Jordan king discuss Israeli-Palestinian conflict

On Mideast tour, prime minister says first-ever visit to Ramallah aims to ‘reaffirm our support for the Palestinian people’

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media ahead of a session at the Parliament house in New Delhi, January 29, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media ahead of a session at the Parliament house in New Delhi, January 29, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and his role as custodian of Jerusalem’s major Muslim and Christian shrines, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A palace statement said the two met Friday, a day before Modi’s first-ever visit to the West Bank.

India has long been a leading country in the traditionally pro-Palestinian Non-Aligned Movement, but has developed warm relations with Israel in recent years.

Modi tweeted that he was looking forward to talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and “reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine.”

In July, Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, but did not include the Palestinians in his itinerary.

The Times of India reported last month the new visit was part of an effort to “de-hyphenate” New Delhi’s relations between Israelis and Palestinians, noting that in the past, the government had attempted to balance its relations with both sides at the same time.

Modi’s trip to the region comes weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warmly welcomed during a five-day trip to India that sought to promote diplomatic and military ties between Jerusalem and New Delhi.

Last week, Indian government officials confirmed for the first time that a massive deal to purchase anti-tank missiles from Israel’s Rafael weapons manufacturer is back on the table after it had been previously canceled by Delhi.

According to Indian media reports, the countries are negotiating how many Spike anti-tank guided missiles will be bought from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and their price, with senior officials in Narendra Modi’s government quoted as saying the order should be around 3,000 missiles.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, on January 15, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MONEY SHARMA)

Last April, Israel and India signed a military deal worth nearly $2 billion, that includes the supply over several years of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers, and communications technology.

India, which has longstanding territorial disputes with neighbors China and Pakistan, has signed several big-ticket defense deals since Modi came to power in 2014.

It has been moving away from relying on traditional ally Russia for military hardware, and has deepened its ties to Israel, diplomatically and militarily.

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