India Business
India's voice can help Middle East peace: Arab League
May 10, 2007 - 9:28:36 PM

New Delhi, May 10 - The League of Arab States Thursday said India should use its 'growing weight and voice' in the international community to push the Middle East peace process and called for upgrading ties between the two sides to a new level.

'We want India to use its weight in the international community and its contacts with other countries to advance peace in the Middle East,' Hesham Youssef, the visiting envoy of the Arab League, told reporters here.

'The voice of India is listened to with respect in the world. We want the voice of India to advance the Arab cause,' said Youssef, chief of the cabinet of the Secretary General of the Arab League, an organization of Arab states which has its headquarters in Cairo.

Youseef led a five-member delegation for a two-day visit to India that ended Thursday for the third round of the India-Arab League bilateral dialogue and raise trade and economic ties between India and the Arab world to a new level.

Underlining India's emergence as a major world power, Youssef stressed the need for reform of the UN Security Council to reflect 'the new balance of power' in the world.

'We are in favour of a fair and equitable Security Council. India is an emerging power. We hope India will become a bigger power in the days to come,' Youssef replied when asked about the Arab League's stand on India's bid for a permanent seat in the Security Council.

N. Ravi, Secretary - in the external affairs ministry led the Indian side in the bilateral dialogue that discussed a slew of proposals, including an India-Arab Cooperation Forum, to take ties between the two sides to new heights.

The two sides will formally submit proposals for enhancing bilateral ties to each other in two weeks.

Ravi 'reaffirmed India's strong support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people', the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

'India's strong commitment to the just and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, to the establishment of a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine, within well defined and recognized borders, living in peaceful co-existence with its neighbours, was reiterated,' the ministry added.

Youssef also met Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and Prime Minister's Special Envoy for West Asia Chinmaya Gharekhan and discussed with them an array of bilateral and regional issues, including the Middle East peace process.

Trade and investment between India and the Arab countries have more than trebled from $7.5 billion in 2001-02 to $24 billion in 2005-06, but much more remains to be done, the Arab League's envoy said.

Asked about the Arab League's stand on the Kashmir issue, Youssef said that Kashmir was never on the agenda of the League, which supported ongoing efforts of India and Pakistan to end differences, he added.

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