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Updated: September 19, 2011 08:37 IST

U.S., EU step up efforts over Palestine’s bid for statehood

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High Representative for the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton greets Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, before a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee at the U.N. headquarters on Sunday.
AP
High Representative for the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton greets Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, before a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee at the U.N. headquarters on Sunday.

The United States and the European Union stepped up last minute efforts on Sunday to avoid a showdown over Palestine’s bid for statehood at the United Nations General Assembly this week, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton here to discuss the “way forward.”

Representatives of the Middle East quartet — U.S., EU, Russia and the United Nations also held discussions to work out a strategy for avoiding a confrontation at the U.N. as well as discuss ways to bring Israel and Palestine back to the negotiating table.

Ms. Clinton, who met Ms. Ashton at a hotel here, said, “We are meeting to talk about the way forward.” Ms. Clinton had said earlier that the only way of getting a lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine issue is through “direct negotiations between the parties, and the root to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York.”

The Middle East diplomatic Quartet’s envoy Tony Blair was also expected to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki—moon.

The former British prime minister sounded hopeful of avoiding a UN showdown.

“I think there is a way of avoiding a confrontation,” Mr. Blair said in an interview to ABC News. “The only way in the end we are going to get a Palestinian state — and this week is all about advancing Palestinian statehood...is through negotiation.”

He said, he understood the Palestinian sentiment of approaching the UN for statehood, saying “they are perfectly entitled to go there.”

The change in status would allow Palestinians access to international judicial bodies such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

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