Ramallah (West Bank): External Affairs Minister S M Krishna arrived here on Thursday to meet top Palestinian Authority leadership during which he is expected to reaffirm India's strong support to the Palestinian cause.

Krishna drove down to Ramallah from Jerusalem through the Beitunya check-point. At the check point, the minister and his team had to shift to the vehicles with Palestinian number plates leaving behind Israeli cars.

The minister is expected to meet top Palestinian leadership today including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in what is the first visit by an Indian Foreign Minister in over a decade.

Krishna is also expected to hold bilateral talks with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Malki and will also attend a wreath laying ceremony on the Mausoleum of Yasser Arafat.

Sources said the External Affairs Minister is expected to reiterate India's strong support to the Palestinian cause.

Incidentally, India was the first non-Arab country to recognise the statehood of Palestine in 1988 when it was declared.
The Minister's visit comes close on the heels of Jordan playing host to Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on January 3, the first in more than a year.

Even though India has supported Palestine on a number of international forums, its friendship with Israel has also flourished.

"Our relationship with country does not affect our ties with the others. We have stated position on international issues," a diplomatic source said.

After spending a substantial part of the day in West Bank, Krishna will drive back to Amman and leave for India. He will also stop in Dubai on the way back and meet with his UAE counterpart.