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Norway upgrades PLO mission, supports statehood

Dec. 16, 2010 11:23 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 17, 2010 8:33 P.M.)
OSLO, Norway (Ma'an) -- Norway's foreign ministry announced Wednesday that the status of the Palestinian representative's office in Oslo would be upgraded to a diplomatic mission as part of an effort of the Scandinavian nation to support Palestinian efforts toward building a state.

The announcement came while Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was in Oslo, where officials announced the coming international donors conference to take place in the city in April 2011. During the announcement the official said he hoped a Palestinian state could be established within the year.

Sr far, international donors have pledged $92 million in assistance to Palestine, including $24 million from Norway alone.

Speaking after talks with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, who heads the committee in charge of coordinating international aid to the Palestinians, did not give an exact date or venue for the meeting.

"We should all cling to the vision of 2011 being the year when we can see a new state on the world stage: the Palestinian state," he told reporters in Oslo.

"For that to happen, institutions need to be solid, governance needs to be transparent, security, schools, all these elements need to come in place," he added.

Fayyad meanwhile stressed the work done by the Palestinian Authority to lessen its dependence on international aid.

He pointed out that the aid portion of the budget had shrunk from $1.8 billion in 2008 to less than 1.2 billion this year and that the Authority aimed to do without budget aid altogether by 2013.

"It's no secret that the Palestinian authority has been reliant on aid for a number of years, effectively since the start, he said, stressing that "due to Israeli restrictions on our national sovereignty, the economy has not been able to operate up to its potential".

"Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority has been making good and steady progress towards reducing progressively its reliance on international aid," he said.

Following Wednesday's talks, Stoere and Fayyad signed an accord regarding cooperation in the area of education, which the two men presented as a new step in the process towards establishing the institutions needed in the creation of a "viable" Palestinian state.

AFP contributed to this report
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