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Obama says no to Abbas on statehood bid


10:58, September 22, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday that Washington opposes the Palestinian attempt to seek statehood at the UN and would use its veto power when necessary.

"We would have to oppose any action at the UN Security Council including, if necessary, vetoing," Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor at the White House, told reporters after the two presidents met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Rhodes added that Obama urged Abbas not to tender a letter of application for full UN membership to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a move expected to take place right after Abbas addresses the General Assembly on Friday.

The Palestinians will not accept a delay on a UN vote on their statehood, said Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Abbas.

"We will not allow any political maneuvering on this issue," he said at a press conference on Wednesday at the UN, arguing that the statehood bid is the only alternative to violence.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who joined Obama in the meeting with Abbas, was scheduled to hold separate talks with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening.

In his meeting with Netanyahu earlier in the day, Obama said that peace cannot be imposed on the parties, but has to be negotiated.

In his address to the General Assembly on Wednesday morning, Obama said that he still believes the Palestinian people deserve "a state of their own," but opposes the Palestinians' unilateral move for statehood.

"Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN," he said. "If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now."

Acknowledging that he is "frustrated" as many others by the lack of progress, Obama said he is convinced that "there is no shortcut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades."


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