Mahmoud Abbas formally presented a UN membership request on September 23
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, seen here on September 23, has flown to Europe to kick off a week-long tour which will also take him to Latin America to shore up support for his UN membership bid. © Stan Honda - AFP/File
Mahmoud Abbas formally presented a UN membership request on September 23
AFP
Last updated: October 5, 2011

Abbas to Europe and Latin America over UN state bid

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas flew to Europe on Tuesday to kick off a week-long tour which will also take him to Latin America to shore up support for his UN membership bid.

The UN membership request, which Abbas formally presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 23, is being studied by the 15-member Security Council, which is expected to vote on it in the coming weeks.

The move is strongly opposed by both Israel and the United States, which say a Palestinian state can only emerge through bilateral negotiations.

Abbas travelled from Ramallah to Amman on Monday night and was on Tuesday to begin his diplomatic charm offensive with a visit to Strasbourg where the Council of Europe has just upgraded the level of Palestinian representation.

He will address council members on Thursday before flying directly to the Dominican Republic, where he will address parliament on Friday, Palestinian officials said.

On Saturday, he will travel to El Salvador, and a day later will visit Bogota for talks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Colombia, a close ally of Washington and a member of the Security Council, opposes the Palestinian move at the UN and has pledged to abstain in any Security Council vote.

Unlike most Latin American countries, Colombia has yet to recognise a Palestinian state, arguing that such an entity can emerge only through a negotiated solution with Israel.

Six Security Council members -- Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa -- have publicly indicated their backing for the Palestinian bid, while Britain, France, Germany, Bosnia, Gabon, Nigeria and Portugal are keeping their cards close to their chests.

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