Abbas asks Ashton to support UN bid 29Aug11 August 29, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  28 August 2011


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday urged European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to support Palestine’s bid for membership of the United Nations, PLO official Saeb Erekat told the state news agency Wafa.

Ashton is in the region for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to call for a return to negotiations and progress in the peace process, a statement from her office said Friday.

Erekat said Ashton’s meeting with the president focused on the Palestinians’ bid for UN membership, the official Palestinian Authority news agency reported.

Abbas told Ashton that Palestinian membership of the UN would preserve the peace process and asked the EU to support the bid, Erekat said.

He added that Palestinian leaders hoped the 27 member states of the EU would “speak with one voice regarding the Palestinian request for full membership.”

Ashton also met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah.

Following the meeting, Fayyad urged the international community to intervene effectively to compel Israel to comply with international law and stop illegal settlement building, end the occupation and the blockade of Gaza and stop military incursions in the Palestinian territories.

In a statement issued by his office, Fayyad insisted that the PA would complete its state-building plan. The government will upgrade services and infrastructure to prepare for statehood, he said.

The premier thanked the EU for its financial and political support for the Palestinian people and praised European efforts to revive the peace process.

He said the PA was trying to overcome the financial crisis, but said the economic problems could not be resolved unless donor countries met their obligations.

“I do not expect this crisis to come to an end in a short period, but it will remain until the end of this year. Next year is expected to witness improvements as we are scheduled to finalize a package of accomplishments so we can be closer to self-dependency,” Fayyad added.

Ashton will also meet Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense minister Ehud Barak, foreign minister and deputy premier Avigdor Liberman and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni before heading to Jordan.

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