India hopes Annapolis summit will lead to independent Palestine

By Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington : India has expressed the hope that a US sponsored Middle East conference here Tuesday will lead to the creation of an independent state of Palestine living side by side at peace with Israel.

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Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal, who is representing India at the 40-nation conference in Annapolis, Maryland, about 50 km from Washington, outlined India’s views at several bilateral meetings in the US capital Monday.

“India believes that in the course of negotiations at Annapolis the international community will emphasise the necessity of resolving the Palestine-Israeli conflict through dialogue, consensus and mutual understanding and that resorting to violence is an unacceptable means to such resolution,” he told his interlocutors.

“Hopefully the parameters of the future course of action will be resolved at Annapolis allowing establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine living side by side, at peace with the State of Israel within secure and recognised borders,” Sibal said.

India like other IBSA (a trilateral, developmental initiative between India, Brazil and South Africa) members also supports the need for comprehensive peace and stability in the region by addressing Palestine-Israel and other remaining tracks, said Sibal, after a meeting with Brazilian and South African foreign ministers Celso Amorin and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The three leaders, who met at a working lunch hosted by Amorin in Washington, were of the view that the Annapolis Summit was a positive development that needs to be supported by the international community, in order to assist the peace dialogue between Israel and Palestine.

They felt that the international community has a positive and contributory role to play in this regard now, and later in the follow-up mechanism of the conference.

Sibal, who is accompanied by the prime minister’s special envoy for West Asia, Chinmaya R. Gharekhan, also discussed the Israel-Palestine issue and regional developments in West Asia during a half-hour meeting with Secretary General of the Arab League Amre Moussa.

Moussa gave his assessment to Sibal about the Israel-Palestine dialogue, the role of the Arab League and related issues including developments leading up to the Annapolis Summit. The two leaders decided to keep in touch with each other during the Summit and its follow-up.

Sibal is expected to outline India’s views at a plenary session of the conference Tuesday afternoon after its formal inauguration by US President George Bush in the morning.