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India, Arab League agree on `new format` to bolster ties

PTI | Last Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 17:21

New Delhi: India and the 22-nation Arab League on Tuesday held wide-ranging discussions on key bilateral, regional and international issues like situation in Syria and the Middle East peace process, and have decided to explore new areas of cooperation to further enhance ties.

In their talks, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Secretary General of League of Arab States Nabil Elaraby agreed to a "new format" for high-level political interaction to energise India`s relationship with the Arab countries to a greater level, besides enhancing cooperation in trade, investment and other areas.

A memorandum of cooperation between India and the League of Arab States was signed by the two leaders that is aimed at imparting "fresh momentum" to engagement between the two sides at the senior official and ministerial levels. Another MoU on new Executive Programme for the 2014-15 was also signed.

The MoUs also envisages cooperation in diverse areas like trade and investment, energy, small and medium enterprises, culture and capacity building.

Elaraby also called on Vice President M Hamid Ansari.

"The discussion was marked by warmth and friendship that is characteristic of the very special nature of the relationship that we have with the Arab countries," Khurshid told reporters after signing the MoUs.

Terming the talks as "very productive", Khurshid said there has been potential to take the relationship to the higher-level.

"The Secretary General and I agreed to a new format for high-level political interaction which will energise the relationship in a new way," Khurshid said.

Khurshid and Elaraby also agreed to work in close cooperation in multi-lateral forums like the United Nations.

The External Affairs Minister said he conveyed India`s "steadfast support" to the Palestine cause.

"I conveyed our steadfast support to the Palestine cause and expressed our support for the role being played by the League in the Middle East peace process towards establishment of a state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as capital," he said.

Khurshid said both the sides discussed the "distressing" situation in Syria and condemned violence and loss of lives on both sides.

"We agreed on resolution of all issues through dialogue in keeping with aspirations of people of Syria," Khurshid said.

Elaraby said there have been historical ties between India and Arab World which are growing steadily in diverse fields. He said there is huge scope to expand cooperation between the two sides.

The shared belief in anti-colonialism and south-south cooperation together with the staunch commitment to achieve, preserve and enhance international peace and security through dialogue and consultation forms the basic framework of the cooperation, a statement by the MEA said.

First Published: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 17:21

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