Palestinian state crucial, says Indian PM

RIYADH: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that an independent Palestinian state was key to Middle East stability and called on arch-foe Pakistan to “act decisively” against terrorism.

“There is no issue more important for peace and stability in the region than the question of Palestine,” Singh told members of the Saudi Shura Council, the kingdom’s appointed consultative body, in Riyadh.

“For far too long the brave people of Palestine have been denied their just, legitimate and inalienable rights, including most of all the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable Palestinian state,” he said.

Singh, on the third and final day of a state visit to Saudi

Arabia, also said that good relations with India’s neighbour Pakistan hinged on its actions against terrorism. “Our objective is a permanent peace (with Pakistan) because we recognise that we are bound together by a shared future,” he said.

“But to realise this vision, Pakistan must act decisively against terrorism. If Pakistan cooperates with India, there is no problem that we cannot solve,” Singh said.

A bilateral cooperation agreement which Singh signed with King Abdullah after talks late yesterday also emphasised the

need for an independent

Palestinian state.

In the agreement the two

leaders stressed that Israel’s

continued building of settlements is a major obstacle to

the peace process.

Before his arrival in the Saudi capital on Saturday, Singh told journalists that India’s purchase of significant military hardware from Israel did not affect its stance on the Palestinian issue.

New Delhi’s support for an independent Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem is “an article of faith for us,” he said.