Obama urges Bosnia and Herzegovina not to support Palestine UN bid

Obama urges Bosnia and Herzegovina not to support Palestine UN bid

US President Barack Obama waves as he arrives for a G20 summit in Cannes, France on Friday, Nov. 4, 2011. (Photo: AP)

November 04, 2011, Friday/ 14:21:00/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM

US President Barack Obama has sent a letter to three members of Bosnia and Herzegovina's rotating presidency, urging the small Balkan country to vote against UN membership for Palestine as a state.

The letter has been delivered to the Croat chairman of the presidency, Zeljko Komsic, and two other members, Bosniak member Bakir Izetbegovic and Serbian member Nebojsa Radmanovic by US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip T. Reeker, Anatolia news agency said on Friday, citing statements by Komsic and Radmanovic. It did not say when the letter arrived.

Palestinians applied for full UN membership for the state of Palestine on Sept. 23 and the request is now being considered by the Security Council. But the United States, a close ally of Israel, has already pledged veto it in the 15-nation body if it is brought to a vote.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet said what its vote will be but observers say it is likely to abstain because its Muslim, Serb and Croat collective presidency cannot agree. Komsic did not comment on his stance towards the Palestinian bid when he announced having received the letter from Obama but Serbian member Radmanovic expressed his opposition clearly, saying although some accuse him of being pro-Israeli, he was only working to defend interests of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Izetbegovic, who is believed to support Palestinian bid for UN membership as a state, has not commented on the matter.

The Palestinians would score a moral victory and force Washington to cast its veto if they can muster nine votes to support them in the council. A council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass.

Many UN diplomats believe the Palestinians would get only eight votes, and a meeting of council ambassadors on Thursday to review the issue produced no surprises, Reuters reported.

Quoting envoys at the UN, the Reuters report said Russia, China, Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa supported the Palestinian bid, while the United States opposed it, and Britain, France and Colombia said they would abstain if there were a vote. Gabon and Nigeria, expected to support the Palestinians, and Germany and Portugal, expected to abstain, did not spell out their positions.

The UN Security Council is expected to conclude a review of the Palestinian application next week.

Obama said in his letter that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute should be resolved through dialog and reconciliation between the two parties and warned other actions could further harm chances of peace, Anatolia said.

Both the United States and Israel say the Palestinian push in the United Nations is unilateral and an attempt to bypass peace talks.

Both Palestinian and Israeli foreign ministers visited Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, last week for talks on the Palestinian bid at the UN.

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