Indian PM, Jordan king discuss Israeli-Palestinian conflict

PM Modi was received by Jordan Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki on his arrival in Amman on Friday. (Image tweeted by PMO India)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Indian PM, Jordan king discuss Israeli-Palestinian conflict

AMMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah II has discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his role as custodian of major Muslim and Christian shrines in contested Jerusalem with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A palace statement says the two met on Friday, a day before Modi’s first-ever visit to the West Bank.
After a public embrace of Israel as a strategic partner, the Indian prime minister is visiting the Palestinian territories and the Gulf countries on Friday to bolster long-standing political and economic ties.
Modi tweeted on Friday that he is looking forward to talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and “reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine.”
His visit comes at a time of tensions over President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The step angered Palestinians who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as a future capital.
India was one of the earliest champions of the Palestinian cause but in recent years turned to Israel for high-tech military equipment and anti-terrorism cooperation.
Under Modi, whose nationalist party sees Israel as a natural ally against extremism, ties have flourished. Modi made the first trip to Israel by an Indian prime minister last year followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India last month.
But Indian officials said India continued to support the Palestinian cause and that Modi’s visit is aimed at helping build up the Palestinians’ capacity in the health, information technology and education areas.
“We have de-hyphenated our relations with Palestine and Israel and now we see them both as mutually independent and exclusive and as part of this policy the prime minister is undertaking this visit,” B. Bala Bhaskar, a joint secretary in the Indian Foreign Ministry, said.
The two sides are building an Indian-Palestinian technology park in Ramallah, the Palestinians’ seat of government, which will develop IT expertise and generate employment.
Modi arrived in Jordan later on Friday and travels to Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Saturday. During his visit to Israel last year, he did not travel to the Palestinian headquarters as is usually the case with visiting leaders.
“Looking forward to my discussions with President Mahmoud Abbas and reaffirming our support for the Palestinian people and the development of Palestine,” Modi said in a Twitter post.
India was among more than 120 countries to vote in favor of a resolution in December calling for the US to drop its recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
But the scale of India’s security and commercial ties with Israel dwarfs the engagement with the Palestinians. Israel is among India’s top three arms suppliers, doing business worth millions of dollars each year.
Modi and Netanyahu are now pushing for cooperation in agriculture, energy and cybersecurity in addition to defense.
Modi will also travel to the UAE, from where India gets half of its oil, and to Oman, with which India’s navy has built close security ties.
The Gulf is home to 9 million Indians who remit $35 billion home each year, sustaining millions of families. The UAE committed an investment of $75 billion in India when Modi visited in 2015 and the two sides will be looking to advance that goal, the Foreign Ministry said


US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft crash

US soldiers take position on top of Police Building during a training session by U.S. army at al-Karama police headquarter in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad June 16, 2009. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 min 20 sec ago
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US-led coalition member killed in Iraq aircraft crash

  • The political uncertainty over the make-up of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services
  • The US leads an international coalition that has targeted Daesh and other terrorists in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014

BAGHDAD: The US-led anti-Daesh coalition said on Monday one of its members was killed in an apparently accidental aircraft crash in Iraq which left several others wounded.
A statement said “there are no indications the crash was caused by hostile fire,” adding that an investigation is underway.
“One coalition service member was killed and several injured when their aircraft crashed” in Iraq at around 2200 GMT on Sunday, the statement said.
It did not give the location of the crash or identify any of the casualties but said that three coalition members were “evacuated for further treatment,” suggesting they were in serious condition.
The crash happened as the aircraft “was conducting a partnered counterterrorism mission,” the statement said.
“The deceased service member’s name and further details pertaining to the incident will be released by the pertinent national authorities,” it added.
The US leads an international coalition that has targeted Daesh and other terrorists in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014.
The coalition includes Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Turkey along with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Jordan, the Netherlands and the UAE.
In March, seven US troops were killed when their helicopter crashed during a transport mission in western Iraq, near the border with Syria.
Later that month two coalition members — an American and a Briton — were killed by an improvized explosive device in the northern Syrian city of Manbij.
In another development, Iraq’s Supreme Court has ratified the results of the May 12 parliamentary election, setting in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the winning parties to form a government.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s government, now serving in a caretaker capacity, welcomed the court’s announcement.
Parliament in June ordered a nationwide manual recount of the results, which were tallied electronically, after a government report said there were widespread violations and blamed the electoral commission.
Yet the recount showed little had changed from the initial results as Moqtada Al-Sadr retained his lead, positioning him to play a central role in forming the country’s next government.
“The Federal Supreme Court issued on the afternoon of Aug. 19, 2018, its decision to ratify the names received,” its spokesman Iyas Al-Samouk said in a statement.
The ratification makes the results formal and lawmakers now have to gather and elect a speaker, then president and finally a prime minister and cabinet within 90 days.
The political uncertainty over the make-up of the new government has raised tensions at a time when public impatience is growing over poor basic services, unemployment and the slow pace of rebuilding after a three-year war with Daesh.