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India ready to play bigger role in West Asia

India is considering a proposal to appoint a special envoy for the peace process.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2005 12:52 IST

India is considering a proposal to appoint a special envoy for theWest Asia peace process - a move that is likely to raise further New Delhi's strategic and economic stakes in the stability of the region.

In a meeting with External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh in New York Thursday, his Palestinian counterpart Nasser al-Kidwa requested that India appoint a special envoy for the West Asia peace process.

"In this regard, the extension of the charge of the special envoy to West Asia to West Asia peace process will be considered," said the external affairs ministry in a statement here.

Natwar Singh also met his Afghan counterpart Abdullah Abdullah in New York and expressed India's commitment to a sovereign and stable Afghanistan.

India appointed Chinmaya Gharekhan as prime minister's special envoy for the West Asia early this year.

"We have a huge stake in West Asia. Peace is the overriding necessity in the region and it will certainly make our job easier to play a more effective role in the region," Gharekhan said recently.

The Palestinian foreign minister also sought greater economic assistance from New Delhi. India will consider the demand in consultation with Brazil and South Africa as part of IBSA - a forum for greater economic and strategic ties between the three countries.

India has welcomed the recent withdrawal of Israeli settlements from Gaza and northern West Bank, and the Israeli military from Gaza as a "positive development and the beginning of a process that will culminate in a mutually acceptable, negotiated settlement in accordance with the roadmap and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions."

During his visit to India in May this year, Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas had said that India could play a role in the West Asia peace process as it had always supported the cause of an independent Palestine and stood by its people.

In his discussion with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Abbas thanked New Delhi for its humanitarian assistance and political support to the Palestinian people.

Israel has also indicated its willingness to involve India in the peace process. Israeli ambassador to India David Danieli believes that India, with its good relations with both Israel and Palestine, can play a constructive role in the West Asia peace process.

First Published: Sep 23, 2005 16:42 IST