Colombia recognizes Palestine as sovereign state

Bogota, an ally of the United States, has historically maintained close ties with Israel. (AP)
Updated 09 August 2018
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Colombia recognizes Palestine as sovereign state

  • Israeli PM had been scheduled to arrive in Colombia on Monday but called off the trip at the last minute
  • The US doesn't recognize a Palestinian state, and Colombia long refrained from doing so due its close ties with Washington

BOGOTA: Colombia recognized Palestine as a sovereign state in the days before new President Ivan Duque took office, according to a letter from the foreign ministry made public on Wednesday.
“I would like to inform you that in the name of the government of Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state,” said the letter dated August 3.
The letter was signed by Santos’s foreign minister Maria Angela Holguin.
New Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said he would review the “implications” of the previous government’s decision, in accordance with international law and good diplomatic practice.
“It is a priority for this government to maintain cooperative relations with its allies and friends, and to contribute to international peace and security,” Holmes said.
Before the announcement, Colombia had been one of only two countries in the region, along with Panama, not to recognize Palestinian statehood.
Bogota, an ally of the United States, has historically maintained close ties with Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been scheduled to arrive in Colombia on Monday but called off the trip at the last minute, saying he needed to focus on developments along his country’s border with the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian mission in Bogota told AFP that they were told of the decision last Friday. It welcomed the move by Bogota as evidence of “profound efforts to reach a rapprochement.”


‘New beginning’: Khan brings hope of stronger ties with India

Updated 54 min 18 sec ago
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‘New beginning’: Khan brings hope of stronger ties with India

  • Cautious optimism in India as Imran Khan becomes PM in Pakistan
  • Indian experts say stable government in Pakistan will determine the course of India-Pakistan relations

NEW DELHI: Indian foreign policy experts have expressed cautious optimism about an improvement in the country’s relationship with Pakistan following Imran Khan’s rise to power.

Former India ambassador to Pakistan TCA Raghavan said that if Pakistan’s new prime minister was able to provide stable government internally and address the nation’s numerous domestic issues, it “will create the basis for better relations with India.”

Raghavan, author of “The People Next Door: The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations,” said: “It’s difficult to make predictions about India-Pakistan relations at any time. But in my view the internal situation in Pakistan has a great role to play in determining the course of the relationship.”

Sudheendra Kulkarni, a peace activist and adviser to the former prime minister Atal Behari Vajppayee, described Khan’s leadership as a “new beginning for Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent.”

“The past four years have been a wasted opportunity in taking the India-Pakistan relationship forward,” he said. “Nawaz Sharif was a leader with a thorough commitment to a better relationship with New Delhi, but the Narendra Modi regime could not sustain the initial hopes when it invited the leader of the Islamic republic to a swearing in ceremony in 2014.”

However, Kulkarni cautioned that “we should not expect marked improvement in relations in the next eight to nine months as India is going to have elections early next year.”

Professor Happymon Jacob, of the Center for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said: “I am positive about Imran Khan. If the Pakistan army and the political establishment are on board, and there is no difference between the two elites, then it becomes easier for India to navigate.

“Under Nawaz Sharif, both the elites were not on the same page regarding India. The present regime in Delhi will not reach out to Pakistan when elections in India are around the corner. If anything wrong goes so far as peace process is concerned, then it will have electoral ramifications. Any revival of peace talks will happen only after the elections.”

India’s leadership reached out to Khan after his election victory with the Ministry of External Affairs saying: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi expresses hope that democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan and reiterates his vision of peace and development in the entire neighborhood.”

In his victory speech, Khan also said that “Pakistan is ready to improve its ties with India.”

He said that his government hoped the leaders of the two nations can resolve all disputes, including the core issue of Kashmir, through talks.

“If they take one step toward us, we will take two,” he said.

Meanwhile, India cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, a guest at Khan’s swearing in on Saturday, has called for peace on the subcontinent.

“It’s in the interest of both countries that peace prevails. I have come to Pakistan despite all the criticism back home with a message of peace and friendship. We have the same culture, the same way of thinking and, therefore, it is important that we should have a strong bond.”