IBSA representatives hold talks with Abbas

Ramallah: Affirming their commitment to creation of a Palestinian state, key leaders from India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) held talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who applauded their efforts in mobilising support for his side`s bid for UN membership.

"There is absolutely no justification for stalling the Palestinian bid" for UN membership, said Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed, who along with Ambassador Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto of Brazil and Marius Fransman, South Africa`s Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, met Abbas on Saturday.

"We are committed to it (Palestinian bid for UN membership) and will work together with like-minded countries like Brazil and South Africa to push it towards fructification," Ahamed told PTI.

Even though the Palestinian bid for membership at the UN seems doomed given inadequate support in the UN Security Council, or a definite US veto in case of a majority vote in its favour, the grouping of IBSA had expressed its commitment to promote the Palestinian cause at the world body.

Ahamed said that he along with Pinto and Fransman met Abbas and "expressed our commitment towards promoting the Palestinian cause at the United Nations."

The three called on the Palestinian President last evening after inaugurating a sports centre in Ramallah built by their joint financial assistance through UNDP.

Abbas profusely thanked IBSA for taking the lead in mobilising support for Palestine`s UN bid and expressed his people`s "deepest gratitude" for their assistance at such a crucial juncture.

Palestinian officials told PTI that India played an instrumental role in getting Palestine elected as a member at UNESCO recently.

The Indian minister also said that Israel should not "ignore the world opinion on stopping settlement activities in disputed areas" and called on the Jewish state to talk directly to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resolve final status issues.

He said that IBSA has expressed firm support to the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital living in peace and side-by-side with Israel, a halt to building activities in east Jerusalem and the West Bank and return to the pre-1967 situation.

"The settlement issue has become an impediment in the recommencement of direct talks between the two sides and Israel should not ignore the world opinion and react positively to it", Ahamed asserted.

The faltering peace talks between Israel and PA have been stalled for several months because the Palestinian leadership has made it conditional on the Jewish state putting a complete halt on building activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

During IBSA leaders` meeting with Abbas, Ahamed also commended the Palestinian leader`sefforts in trying to bring different factions together in attempts to unify the Palestinian masses.