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Statement by Mr. Kapil Sibal, Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences of India at the Annapolis Conference to promote Arab-Israeli peace

Annapolis, MD
November 27, 2007

India applauds the Joint Understanding reached by the President of Palestine Mr. Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Ehud Olmert in Annapolis to launch vigorous, ongoing and continuing bilateral negotiations over the coming weeks and months to arrive at a negotiated solution of the core issues that will lead to the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side in mutual peace and prosperity with the State of Israel. It proceeds on the assumption that violence and engagement are mutually incompatible. The President and Secretary of State of the United States have made a signal contribution to facilitate this historic agreement. We pay rich tribute to the courage, wisdom and statesmanship displayed by the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships to take risks in the cause of a just and lasting peace between two peoples who though divided by many complex and emotive issues are nevertheless joined by common geography and history.

It has been repeatedly emphasized in the Joint Understanding that the negotiations will be bilateral between the parties. This is as it should be. However, at the specific request by the parties, the United States has agreed to assist them in the monitoring and judging the fulfillment of the commitments undertaken by both sides of the road map. This should reassure the parties and help in creating an atmosphere of confidence. No one realizes better than the two parties themselves how difficult the road ahead will be. Even with the best of intentions, it will require unprecedented determination, goodwill and capacity to offer and accept compromises and concessions, on both sides, if the objective enshrined in this Joint Understanding is to be achieved. In this noble endeavour the parties have declared that they need continuing encouragement and support from the international community. India is ready to play its due role in this collective endeavour to strengthen the forces of peace and stability in the region.

We note with satisfaction that the Middle-East Peace Process will address the unfinished agenda on the Lebanon and Syria tracks. The Arab Peace Initiative, re-launched in Saudi Arabia in March this year, provides a constructive framework for achieving such a comprehensive peace. 

India’s support to the Palestinian cause can be traced to the days of our freedom struggle. This support has not wavered. We recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people in 1975 and were one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in 1988.

India recognized the State of Israel soon after its creation. With the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1992, we have developed close and friendly relations with Israel.

Madam Chairperson, on behalf of the Government of India, I would like to convey our deep appreciation for the invitation to attend this conference. West Asia is part of India’s extended neighbourhood with which we have had a close interaction over millennia. Consequently, we have deep interest in peace and stability in the region.