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India willing to mediate in Israel-Palestine peace process

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 3. India is willing to mediate in bringing about peace between Israel and Palestine to settle the West Asian crisis if the proposal was acceptable to both the parties, and others concerned with the dispute, C.R. Gharekhan, India's Special Envoy to West Asia, told reporters here today.

Having returned from a visit of the region, Mr. Gharekhan said that India was willing to play the role of a mediator if it was asked to, though it would still maintain its stand on settling disputes bilaterally. Since India had good relations with Israel as well as Palestine, it can talk to both parties candidly without compromising on its own position, he added. Mr. Gharekhan will also establish contact with the United States and Russia in the peace process.

During his visit, Mr. Gharekhan met the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, at Cairo, President Mahmud Abbas of Palestine and senior Jordanian leaders. "The Arab leaders warmly welcomed the Indian Government's renewed interest in the region and its decision to appoint an envoy." Instability in the region is of concern to us because our energy sources come from there, and it can have an impact on us, Mr. Gharekhan said.

Coordinated approach

Suggesting that initiation of the peace process between Israel and Palestine was a glimmer of hope for the region, he hoped that we would possibly see the peace process being completed by the end of July. "I have all the powers and the mandate required for my job and I will make a coordinated approach towards this region to make the people conscious of the opportunities in India."

On Iraq, the Special Envoy said that India was willing to help in reconstruction of the country.

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