Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil expressed her support for Syria's claims to the Golan Heights on Saturday, following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad at the presidential palace in Damascus, according to a report from Indian news agency ANI.

"India has consistently supported all just Arab causes. I would like to reiterate India's unwavering support for a lasting and comprehensive peace to the Middle East problem, based on relevant UN resolutions. I would also like to reiterate our strong support for Syria's legitimate right to the Golan Heights, and for its very early and full return to Syria," she told reporters during a joint address with Assad.

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Patil was on a four-day visit to Syria which began Friday and was mostly meant to strengthen business ties between the two nations.

Assad thanked the Indian president for her support on the issue of Arab rights.

"We expressed our hope that Syrian-Indian relations together with international efforts will help put an end to the sufferings of the Palestinian people, blockaded by an apartheid wall," said Assad.

Assad added that the two nations would cooperate on fighting terrorism.

"We have reiterated our two countries condemnation of terrorism in all its forms. And, on the second anniversary of the terrorist Mumbai bombings, marked yesterday, we renew our support of India in fighting terrorism and in order to arrive at a safe and stable world."

Assad also accused Israel of hindering economic development in the region.

"The absence of peace in our region due to Israel's policies... raises tensions and undermines economic development and prosperity," AFP quoted Assad as saying at the joint press conference.

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