Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that he supported the establishment of an "independent, sovereign" Palestinian state.Modi made the remarks during a visit to the occupied West Bank, adding that "the building of the state comes through peaceful means and through dialogue and understanding."

"I assured President Abbas that Indiainfo-icon is committed to the Palestinian national interest. India hopes that Palestineinfo-icon will become an independent and sovereign state in the coming days," Modi said.Counting on India's support

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the visiting Indian Prime Minister that he is counting on India's support for a multi-country sponsorship of any future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations."We exchanged views about the current dilemma of the peace process that resulted from the continuity of the occupation and from the blocking of the political horizon following Trump's decision on Jerusaleminfo-icon and the refugees," Abbas said. 

Such a framework would ostensibly replace Washington's long-standing monopoly as mediator.Abbas rejected the traditional USinfo-icon role after President Donald Trump recognised contested Jerusalem as Israelinfo-icon's capital in December.

Trump's pivot upset Palestinians who seek the city's Israeli-annexed eastern sector as a capital.Abbas has appealed to the international community, including countries in Europe and the Arab worldinfo-icon, to demand a say in future negotiations, but has so far failed to secure commitments.Modi's visit to the city of Ramallah was the first by an Indian prime minister to an autonomous Palestinian enclave in the occupied territory.

The Indian leader pledged $41 million for a hospital, three schools and other projects in the West Bank.

Earlier, Modi and his entourage had flown in by helicopter from Jordaninfo-icon, landing near Abbas's Ramallah headquarters and laying a wreath at the mausoleum of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

After a bilateral meeting, Abbas gave the Indian leader a 'Grand Collar of the State of Palestine' "in recognition of his wise leadership" and "efforts to promote the historic relations between Palestinians and the Republic of India."

India was one of the earliest champions of the Palestinian cause but in recent years turned to Israel for high-tech military equipment to counter nuclear rivals Pakistaninfo-icon and Chinainfo-icon, and military expertise to contain armed rebellion in disputed Kashmirinfo-icon.

India is now Israel's biggest arms marketinfo-icon, buying weaponsinfo-icon at an average of $1 billion each year.