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Syria backs bigger role for India in Middle East peace
New Delhi | August 15, 2007 1:05:16 AM IST
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Syria Tuesday asked India to play a bigger role in the peace process in the Middle East and said that New Delhi should use its growing relations with Washington to promote stability in the region.

"India must play its role in the international arena. The situation in the Middle East directly influences India. It is in India's interest to see a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem, currently on a three-day visit to India, told reporters here.

"India needs to invest in its relations with the US to convince the US administration that stability in the Middle East is in the interests of the US and Israel," he said.

"India should also persuade other Non-Aligned Movement countries to back the peace process in the Middle East and the establishment of a Palestinian state. India can do a lot in this field," he stressed.

"As long as India continues its independent foreign policy, relations between India and Syria will grow to mutual advantage," Al-Moualem replied when asked whether India's growing relations with the US was a matter of concern for Syria.

Al-Moualem also announced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would be visiting India within a year - a trip that is expected to expand relations between the two countries manifold.

Al-Moualem met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Minister for Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan and discussed with them ways to deepen political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

India's relations with Syria, an important oil-producing country, are growing. State-run Gas Authority of India Limited has bid for setting up CNG stations in Syria.

Syria is impressed by India's progress in knowledge industries like IT and in the field of infrastructure development in railways, pipelines and the power sector, the Syrian foreign minister said.

Trade relations between the two countries are growing. India is interested in a long-term contract with Syria for import of rock phosphates and phosphoric acid. Syria has offered to export pulses to India.

(IANS)

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