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Abbas Rounding Up Support for Statehood

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet in Paris in the coming days to discuss the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, a top Palestinian official told AFP on Tuesday.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Abbas would depart for France after meeting with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday to discuss the Palestinian request for UN Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state.

The trip is aimed at lobbying Colombia and France, who are both on the 15-member UN Security Council. France has suggested that the UN grant the Palestinians the status of observer state – less than the full membership they are seeking.

“We are going to have a meeting with the French President Sarkozy on the same subject, because France is also a permanent member of the Security Council,” Maliki told AFP on Monday.

Abbas said Monday in Colombia that he was willing to restart peace negotiations with Israel “at any moment,” AFP reported. “We are in favor of peaceful negotiations leading to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel,” Abbas said in Bogota, according to the AFP report.

“We are at any moment willing to return to the negotiating table if Israel is of the same mind,” he said, during an event where he was declared an honorary citizen of the Colombian capital, Bogota, by the city’s mayor, AFP reported.

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