India To Train Palestinian Diplomats

India has once again made clear that it will always support Palestinian’s cause, despite maintaining cordial ties with Israel. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement on Wednesday, saying that no one could dilute New Delhi’s stand on Palestine.
According to the statement, the Narendra Modi government in India has decided to set up an institute in near future to train senior Palestinian diplomats. Talking to the media, a top MEA official said that the Modi government reiterated its solidarity with the Palestinian cause by making such a decision.
Interestingly, the MEA made the announcement after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision not to visit India during his recent trip to neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan sparked speculation of a possible deterioration in India-Palestine relations. Some foreign policy experts have opined that India’s stand to remain abstain from a resolution condemning Israel at the UN prompted President Abbas to give New Delhi a miss. They said that India’s move might have been read as a change in its pro-Palestinian policy by the Abbas administration. However, the MEA clearly mentioned in the statement that there is no changes in India’s ‘Palestine policy’ and President Abbas would visit the South Asian country later this year.
The MEA revealed that India would spend USD 4.5 million for building the Institute of Diplomacy in Palestine to train its diplomats. “We are also setting up an Institute of Diplomacy in Palestine for training of Palestinian diplomats through Government of India assistance of USD 4.5 million,” said a senior MEA spokesperson. He stressed that apart from conducting special course for Palestinian diplomats, the institute would upgrade their diplomatic and professional skills. According to the spokesperson, it is important for the Palestinian diplomats to have knowledge of various global issues.
The senior MEA official rubbished experts’ claim that New Delhi was struggling to balance its ties with Israel and Palestine. He said that the first India-Palestine Joint Commission meeting, held in November 2016, decided to diversify bilateral co-operation and New Delhi could maintain cordial ties with both Israel and Palestine.
Meanwhile, the MEA confirmed that Prime Minister Modi would not visit Palestine during his trip to Israel in June. The ministry stressed that the main purpose of the PM’s visit is to mark 25 years of India’s diplomatic relations with Israel. It will be the first time when an Indian leader will visit the West Asian nation without visiting Palestine. Modi’s trip will also be the first time when a sitting Indian PM visits Israel. As Modi will not visit Palestine, Palestinian President Abbas has been invited to New Delhi for a state visit.

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