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    India welcomes democracy in Egypt: Patil

    New Delhi: Welcoming the "dawn of democracy" elsewhere in the world, President Pratibha Patil on Monday referred to the "momentous developments" in Egypt.

    "Egypt has recently seen momentous developments. As a democracy ourselves, we welcome the dawn of democracy elsewhere," she said in her address to the joint session of parliament at the beginning of budget session.

    Patil added that India had an "abiding interest in peace, stability and development of countries in our extended neighbourhood".

    The Middle East has been going through a tumultuous new year, with long-standing governments toppled in Tunisia and Egypt. The democratic wave has also engulfed Bahrain and Yemen, with reports of violent suppression of protests in Libya.

    India is watching the developments in the region, where there is a large Indian diaspora. "Millions of our fellow citizens today work in the Gulf and West Asia. Indians overseas make valuable contributions to the countries of their residence and they do us proud," said Patil, adding the government will continue to work for the welfare of the diaspora.

    President Patil had travelled to the United Arab Emirates and Syria, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Saudi Arabia in 2010.