Kerry in talks on bid for Palestinian statehood

Published December 15, 2014
US Secretary of State John Kerry. — Reuters/File
US Secretary of State John Kerry. — Reuters/File

ROME: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Rome on Sunday for a flurry of meetings about a looming UN showdown amid a European-led drive to push towards Palestinian statehood.

US officials told reporters accompanying Mr Kerry that Washington wanted to learn more about the European position. In the past the US has consistently used its power of veto at the UN to block moves it sees as anti-Israel.

But US officials say the US administration has not yet decided whether to back or veto any UN resolution on the issue, arguing it would be “premature” as no draft text exists yet.

Mr Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, before talks on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Since the collapse of Mr Kerry’s peace bid in April and the 50-day war in the Gaza Strip in the summer, there has been growing international concern about rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions amid a slew of attacks.

After Mr Netanyahu called snap elections in March, some Europeans have pointed to a narrow window of opportunity to push a Palestinian resolution at the UN Security Council and the Palestinians have urged a vote by the end of the year.

Washington has long opposed unilateral Palestinian moves to win recognition for a state of Palestine at the United Nations. But officials said they drew a distinction between a unilateral step, and an effort to draw up a multilateral resolution at the UN Security Council which would have the backing of many nations.

The top US diplomat will also meet for a few hours late on Monday in Paris with French, German and British foreign ministers and the new EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. He will then fly to London to meet the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and the secretary general of the Arab League on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2014

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