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Modi lands in Ramallah; Abbas to ask for support in replacing US mediation

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi walks with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday.

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11th-Feb-2018       
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AP, Ramallah :
A senior official says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask India's visiting prime minister to support a multi-country sponsorship that would replace the United States as the sole mediator in future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Narendra Modi arrived by helicopter Saturday for his first-ever visit to an autonomous Palestinian enclave in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Modi laid a wreath at the grave of Abbas' predecessor, Yasser Arafat.
Palestinian official Nabil Shaath says Modi and Abbas are to sign cooperation agreements worth $50 million.
Modi's visit comes after he hosted Israel's prime minister for six days last month, reflecting warming ties.
Abbas has sought international support for replacing the U.S. as sole Mideast mediator, after President Donald Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Abbas has so far failed to win such commitments.
US No Longer "Honest Broker" In Middle East Peace Process: Mahmoud Abbas
Donald Trump's Jerusalem move angered Palestinians, sparked protests in the Middle East, and raised concern that it could further destabilise the region.
World | Press Trust of India
Ramallah:  The US has disqualified itself from being an "honest broker" in the Middle East peace process, Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas has said as he criticised his American counterpart Donald Trump for his "illegal" decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Donald Trump's Jerusalem move angered Palestinians, sparked protests in the Middle East, and raised concern that it could further destabilise the region.
The status of Jerusalem is the centre of Palestine's conflict with Isarel. The city is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians wants to make East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.
Mahmoud Abbas lashed out at the United States' decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital and slashing the aid package to the Palestinians as "unconstructive" measures.
He said President Trump's move will only delay reaching a final agreement.
"The US Administration disqualified itself from being an honest broker, and should not be the sole mediator in the peace process," the Palestine president told news agency PTI in an e-mail interview.
A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic visit to Palestine, making him the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country, President Abbas said India can play a key role in the Middle East peace process.
In a dig at Donald Trump's assertion regarding working out an ultimate deal during his tenure, the Palestinian President said that they "have not received any proposals", but only "sudden and illegal decision on Jerusalem".
"Concerning the so called ultimate deal, we have not received any proposals for a peace plan until the moment. We keep hearing of an ultimate deal that the US President is going to present to the sides, but no one has proposed anything, but instead, President Trump announced his sudden and illegal decision on Jerusalem," he said.
Earlier, The Palestinians have never rejected any invitation to resume peace talks with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday. "Our hands are extended for peace through negotiations," Abbas said. "We support the war on terrorism in every place in the world."
Still Abbas, who was speaking at a the Jerusalem Capital of Muslim Youth 2018 festival in Ramallah, reiterated that the US administration was no longer qualified to act as an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
He said that the Ramallah event was aimed at sending a message to the world that Jerusalem is exclusively the capital of the Palestinian state, though he later said Jerusalem belonged to the Muslim and Christian faiths.
Representatives of 27 Arab, Islamic, and EU countries attended the opening ceremony, including 14 sports and youth ministers.

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