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Ambassador: Abbas to discuss UN bid in Beirut

Aug. 14, 2011 2:46 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 15, 2011 10:45 A.M.)
BEIRUT (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will coordinate efforts to seek membership of the UN during his upcoming visit to Lebanon, Palestinian ambassador in Beirut Abdullah Abdullah said.

Abdullah told Lebanese TV station LBC that there is a long history of cooperation between the Palestinians and Lebanon.

Abbas' visit is important as Lebanon will take over presidency of the UN Security Council in September, when Palestinians will submit their bid for membership of the world body, the ambassador said.

Abdullah said the issue of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon should also be discussed during the president's visit.

"We respect Lebanese sovereignty […] The Palestinian presence in Lebanon is indeed temporary and we are determined to return back.

"There should be a discussion to find a mechanism to satisfy both the Lebanese and the Palestinian residents."

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees estimates that some 425,000 Palestinian refugees are living in Lebanon, a country with a population of four million. Others, however, estimate the number to be closer to 250,000.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian medical delegation headed to Lebanon to assist Palestinians in refugee camps.

Abbas' Secretary-General Tayyeb Abdul Rahim applauded the group's work.

"You have influenced us all with your astonishing spirits in such situations and positions, which proved your commitments to the Palestinian cause" Abdul Rahim said.

He said Palestinian refugees in Lebanon had made huge sacrifices for the Palestinian cause, and said he hoped further delegations would visit Lebanon in the future.

Riyad Mashal, who headed the delegation, said it was the first time Palestinian doctors had visited Lebanon's camps but pledged that further delegations would make the trip.

"This medical initiative is part of our [efforts to] connect to our people in Lebanon, who offered the Palestinian cause a many sacrifices."
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