Ma'an News Agency
October 10, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Bogota for an official visit on Sunday. He is scheduled to meet with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday.

The leader traveled to Colombia after meeting with Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes. He is touring Latin America to follow up on support for a Palestinian bid for full membership in the United Nations as a state.

Colombia, which has a seat on the UN Security Council, has argued that recognition of a Palestinian state should come through negotiations with Israel.

"Mahmoud Abbas does not intend to change the vote of Colombia... but we seek the support of Colombia... especially in the possible negotiation," of peace, said Alexander Monteros, an adviser to the Palestinian mission in Bogota.

Abbas presented the application to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, a move condemned by Israel and its main ally, the United States. The application now faces a Security Council vote.

The United States has said it will veto Palestine's UN application, insisting along with Israel that a Palestinian state can only come into being via a negotiated, comprehensive treaty with Israel to resolve the 63-year-old Middle East conflict.

Since peace talks collapsed a year ago, when an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction expired, the Palestinians have shifted the focus of their efforts to a bid for statehood at the United Nations.

Colombia has not recognized Palestine as a state, though other Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador and Venezuela, have.

The diplomatic Quartet -- made up of the US, the European Union, Russia and the UN -- issued a call for a return to talks within a month on Sept. 23, as President Mahmoud Abbas handed Palestine's application for UN membership.

The Quartet proposal did not insist of a halt to settlement building in the occupied West Bank, which Palestinian officials say is necessary for the viability of a Palestinian state.

Six Security Council members -- Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, Russia and South Africa -- have publicly indicated their backing for the Palestinian bid.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017