PM launches project for first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi

President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas presents Prime Minister Narendra Modi a portrait with his name inscribed in Arabic New Delhi

President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas presents Prime Minister Narendra Modi a portrait with his name inscribed in Arabic New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday arrived in India after completing his visits to Palestine, UAE and Oman.

Modi's second visit was yet another milestone as he witnessed the laying of foundation stone for the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple, the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, through live video transmission. "India accords very high importance to relations with Oman, a key strategic partner in the region", Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

"India and Oman are now going to embark on a new and stronger relationship with far greater momentum and energy than ever before", said Modi during his address.

"The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will come up on 55,000 square metres of land and the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday will be a historic event", said Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday asked visiting Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to help mediate a deal with Israel as he continued to seek an alternative to the USA as the main peace broker.

Modi also praised the expatriate Indians in Oman, numbering over 800,000, for their contributions to its development.

After their talks, the two sides had signed eight agreements, including a MoU on legal and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.

"We believe in the importance of a possible Indian role...to reach a final agreement based on global consensus and resolutions, in which India and other countries can be part of", Abbas said.

Mr Modi also met Deputy Prime Ministers Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said and Sayyid Asaad.

The visiting leader spoke about the progress of the country in the four years of the current government. India will continue to invest in Palestine in the projects of health, educational infrastructure and women empowerment center and also in a printing press.

The temple is located in the Matrah area of Old Muscat, near the Sultan's Palace and was constructed by the merchant community from Gujarat around 125 years ago. Later he will head towards the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in the city which is built from 300,000 tonnes of Indian sandstone.

On Feb. 10, Modi oversaw the awarding of a 10 percent stake in an Abu Dhabi offshore concession to a consortium of Indian oil firms - a first according to UAE state media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said that he was "disappointed" at the Indian vote at the United Nations but also expressed hope that there will be a possible change of heart over a period of time.

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