21 Sep 2011

Obama to meet Mid-East leaders over statehood bid

11:40 pm on 21 September 2011

United States president Barack Obama will meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday to urge him to drop plans to ask the UN Security Council to recognise a Palestinian state.

International leaders have gathered in New York for the General Assembly of the United Nations and flag-waving Palestinians filled the squares of major West Bank cities to rally behind Mr Abbas' bid for statehood recognition.

The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank under 1990s interim peace deals.

Mr Obama will also meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has vowed to veto the bid for a Palestinian state, backing Israel's view that direct talks offer the only route to peace.

Efforts by US, European, Russian and UN mediators have yet to produce guidelines for the resumption of talks. The last round broke down a year ago, the BBC reports.

Mr Abbas is set to launch the statehood bid on Friday, after his address to the UN General Assembly, with a written request to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

However, Mr Obama will ask him not to push for a vote in the Security Council, where the US has promised a veto, to give the "quartet" of mediators time to produce a statement that would be the basis for resumed peace negotiations.

Radio New Zealand's correspondent in New York reports the US is left between a rock and a hard place - supporting a two-state solution for the Israelis and Palestinians, and yet not supporting a letter requesting recognition as prepared by the Palestinian authority.

The world's newest country, South Sudan, will be represented at the General Assembly, while credentials for the representatives for Libya's Transitional National Council have been accepted.