Preston City Council said it is exploring options to link up with a town in Palestine.

The aim it said was to 'extend the hand of friendship to a town in Palestine as a symbol of our sympathy with the people of Palestine the wider Middle East and those of all faiths and communities who are suffering through conflict across the globe'.

A statement from the Leader of Preston City Council, Councillor Matthew Brown and Councillor Nweeda Khan, Cabinet Member for Communities and Social Justice said the council would look to set up a more formal 'twinning arrangement' in the future.

The statement read: “Preston is a City of Sanctuary, offering a safe place of refuge to those fleeing war and persecution from across the world, a proud multicultural city which has become a safe and prosperous home for so many.

"As a city we have witnessed the unfolding of events in Palestine and the wider region with horror and our deepest sympathies extend to all those communities and faiths affected by events of recent months. 

“While deeply symbolic, a friendship arrangement is not merely a gesture, we will do what we can to offer practical support and aid to those in whichever town we look to develop a formal friendship arrangement with, as well as to all the people of Palestine and the wider region.

"Through a friendship arrangement we would seek to build links between local schools, churches, mosques, community centres and other types of organisations. 

"We would hope this will be taken forward in recognition of the importance of the region to the Abrahamic faiths and the need for peace to prevail for all."

The statement adds: "Eventually, after the conflict which currently wages has come to an end, we hope to organise visits, giving people from the city the opportunity to experience the situation in Palestine for themselves and we hope to bring Palestinians to Preston to tell their stories in their own words. 

“As an early adopter of the faith covenant, which reflects Preston City Council’s commitment to welcoming the involvement of faith groups and respecting those of differing beliefs and faith traditions to work together for the common good, we will continue to engage with all communities across the city hoping to build peace and friendship for all. 

"We are also looking to work with children from local schools (in particular schools of sanctuary) to send messages of hope and peace to form part of a peace wall in the city. 

"We also hope to explore a more formal Twinning arrangement and look forward to a time when we can welcome visitors from Palestine, building bonds and bridges within and between communities.

""The point of friendship is to create lasting relationships in order to avoid hate and division as this is the spirit in which we are giving consideration to a Friendship.”