DAMASCUS, JUNE 4, REUTER — Indian prime: minister Rajlo Gandhi began talks on Saturday with Syrian President Mafez Al Assad which Syrian officials said would cover middle east developments.

Officials said the two leaders, both prominent in the nonaligned movement, would discuss the Palestinian uprising in Israeli occupied territories _ and next week’s Arab League Summit in Algiers.

Prime Minister Mahmoud Zu’Bi described Gandhi’s three day visit to Syria as “an important step on the road of bolstering friendly ties and cooperation,” the official Syria News Agency Sanh said,

It also reported that India and Syria had agreed to form joint communities to promote economic and cultural relations.

Gandhi was agreed by a 21gun salute when he arrived in Damascus. He and his wife Sofia then drove to the state guest palace where they were received by Assad and his wife Rnissa.

Gandhi’s visit promoted US. Secretary of State George Shultz to postpone a planned trip to Damascus from Saturday until Monday, official sources said. Shultz, on his fourth Middle East tour this year, is seeking ways to start Arae Israeli peace talks.

India, which has had no diplomatic ties with Israel since the Jewish state was founded in 1948, backs: Arab policy that Israel must withdraw fully from the west bank, Gaza strip and the Syrian Golan Heights.

‘Along with most Arab states, India also says that any peace talks should include the Palestine Liberation Organization and address the Issues of an independent Palestinian state.

State radio said Gandhi’s visit would promote ties within the framework of the United Nations and nonaligned movement.

“The contemplated boost in relations will be in the interest of the two countries as well as of the Arab struggle against Zionism and Imperialism,” it said.

The government newspaper Tishrin described Assad’s meeting with Gandhi as historic, saying their talks would have a far-reaching effect on events in the middle-east.

Article extracted from this publication >> June 10, 1988