BY SHRI K. R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR
OF MR. YASIR
ARAFAT, PRESIDENT OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE
NOVEMBER 20, 1997
a great privilege and pleasure for me to welcome a long standing and
dear friend of India who has, over the years, shared a close rapport
with our leaders, and who is looked upon with admiration and affection
by the people of India as a brother - His Excellency President Arafat.
I would like to extend a very warm and cordial welcome to Your Excellency
and to your delegation.
is personally aware, more than anyone else, of the age-old ties between
us. Since the time of Mahatma Gandhi our support for the Palestinian
cause has been strong and unwavering. We have stood and continue to
stand side by side in your struggle for the just and legitimate national
rights of the Palestinian people, which is the key to peace and stability
in the Middle East. We believe that this should be reached through a
peaceful and negotiated settlement.
your leadership, foresight and initiatives have set in motion a peace
process which has now become irreversible. These have received worldwide
recognition and acclaim. There is now hope that the day would come soon
when years of bitterness and violence between Arabs and Israelis would
come to an end and the coming generations would be able to lead their
lives in peace and freedom in their own respective homelands and within
internationally recognized boundaries.
of the historic Declaration of Principles in 1993, the formation of
the Palestinian National Authority and the signing of the Hebron accord
last January brought the hope that former adversaries can one day become
partners in the cause for peace.
recent developments have caused us concern. These unfortunate developments
have vitiated the atmosphere by threatening the basis and implementation
of the interim Oslo accords and the resumption of the final status negotiations.
The socio-economic conditions of the Palestinian people have also deteriorated
sharply. At this critical juncture in the peace process, we call for
goodwill and good faith from all sides. Unilateral acts not in conformity
with the agreements and understandings already reached would only escalate
tensions and lead to another spiral of violence in the region. Security
comes with peace and we call for respect for the principles on which
the resolution of the conflict is based, including UN Resolutions 242
and 338 and the principle of "land for peace". We are confident
that the speedy resumption of the final status talks would lead to the
establishment of a Palestinian State. We share with you your vision
of a new Middle East in which all peoples and States can live together
within secure borders and in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.
has, over the last several years, taken great strides in the field of
industry, agriculture, trade, science and technology. We would be glad
to share with your people our expertise and services to help rebuild
Palestine. Since the opening of our Representative Office in Gaza, our
interaction has increased in all fields. To-day we have further cemented
our close ties by signing a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral
relations. This is the first such agreement between us. We believe that
it would contribute to strengthening and diversification of our co-operation.
Distinguished Guests, allow me to propose a toast:
- to the
long life and health of His Excellency President Yasir Arafat;
- to the
strong bonds of friendship between India and Palestine; and
- to the
happiness and prosperity of the Palestinian people.