India’s engagement with West Asia and North Africa was cemented through a series of high level interactions that included State visits to India by President Bashar Ali-Assad of Syria. President Mohammed Hosny Mubarak of Egypt and President, Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority. India’s dialogue with Egypt was also taken forward during and official visit by EAM to that country in July 2008. India’s steadfast support for the Palestinian cause was underlined during the State visit of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) during which, in the presence of the Prime Minister. Dr. Manmohan Singh, President Abbas laid the foundation stone of the Palestinian Embassy building in New Delhi, a gift of the Government and people of India, and construction of which is nearing completion. Implementation of PM’s offer of $ 10 million as budgetary support to the PNA was completed during the year.
India strongly condemned the Israeli incursion into the Gaza strip that began in December 2008. India’s varied relations with the Arab world were institutionalised through a Memorandum of Cooperation with the League of Arab States signed in December 2008 during the visit of the Secretary General H.E. Mr. Amre Moussa to New Delhi.
India contributed towards development of Iraq’s human resources by providing 100 slots to Iraq under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme to train its officials in various training and professional institutions all over India. IOC provided training in India to 228 Iraqi oil officials. On February 26, 2009, President Jalal Talabani of Iraq transited through India and tried to encourage our participation in the reconstruction and development of Iraq, especially in the power sector. During the meeting with secretary (East), he expressed a keen desire for encouraging Indian companies and personally assured fullest support to them in Iraq.