PA recalls envoy to Pakistan after India objects to appearance with terrorist

India had lodged a protest with the Palestinians on Saturday, calling the envoy's association with Saeed "unacceptable".

"Palestine is keen to maintain good relations with friendly India and supports it for the efforts in its fight against terrorism", the Palestine Foreign Office spokesperson said.

Saeed, Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) chief and co-founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), was photographed with Palestinian envoy Walid Abu Ali, attending a rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council in Liaquat Bagh in Pakistani's Rawalpindi on Friday morning.

The clarification issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Palestine in Ramallah said that the "participation of our envoy in a mass solidarity rally with Jerusalem, held in Rawalpindi on Friday, and in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified".

"The Palestinian side has conveyed deep regrets over the incident and assured the Government of India that they are taking serious cognizance of their Ambassador's presence at this event", the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

"The State of Palestine affirms its stand with the Republic of India in dealing with terrorist threats, as our nations are real partners in the war against terrorism", the statement said.

Palestinian Ambassador to India Adnan Abu Al Haij said: "We are supporting India in its fight against terrorism and because of that my government made a decision to directly call our ambassador to go back home, not to be Palestine ambassador to Pakistan anymore".

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Addressing the rally which was attended by thousands of people, Saeed said India and Israel had formed a coalition that had the United States as a patron.

Ali's presence with Saeed disappointed many in New Delhi, since it came just days after India voted in favour of Palestine at the United Nations, over US President Donald Trump's move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"We take note of the assurances given by the Palestine side", the statement added.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas had already paid a "state visit" to India in May 2017 - his sixth visit to the country - where he was reassured that Modi would continue India's "unwavering support" to his cause.

Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba armed group, has always been accused by the United States and India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which saw gunmen kill 166 people as they stormed hotels and other targets in the Indian financial hub.

The reports of a Palestinian envoy sharing stage with a known terrorist came as a surprise to many as India had just a week ago joined 127 other countries to vote against U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a move seen as in favour of Palestinian sentiments. "He (Walid Abu Ali) did not know terrorist Hafiz Saeed". We also condemn sharing of a stage with him by any Palestinian official, an act that contradicts our people's principled commitment to universal human rights and democracy and undermines the decades-long friendship between the Indian people and the people of Palestine. His appearance and support for Pakistan - and Pakistani terrorists - was seen as a major slap in the face to India.


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