Middle East

Lithuania to abstain on Palestinian UN bid as EU split

Palestinians wave flags during a rally in support of President Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to secure a diplomatic upgrade at the United Nations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 25, 2012. Picture taken with a slow shutter speed. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

RAUDONDVARIS, Lithuania: Lithuania will abstain on the looming Palestinian bid for upgraded UN membership, given the lack of a united stance in the 27-nation European Union, President Dalia Grybauskaite said.

"Since the EU has not formed a common position -- as far as we know, around nine countries support this and others will abstain -- Lithuania will vote by abstaining," she said.

Grybauskaite was speaking to reporters after a meeting with her Estonian and Latvian counterparts. But neither President Toomas Hendrik Ilves nor Latvia's Andris Berzins would say which way their countries would vote.

Ilves said they wanted the EU member states to adopt a common position, while Berzins said it was too early to say which way they would vote.

"The Latvian delegation has not seen the final version of this proposal, it's still open," he said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to submit a formal application to obtain an upgraded role at the UN as a non-member observer state to the General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

The Palestinians are poised to gain the backing of a majority of the UN's 193 member states, but face opposition from the United States, Israel and some European countries.





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