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PA: Nigeria to support Palestine statehood bid

Sept. 27, 2011 7:12 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 28, 2011 10:06 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Nigeria will vote in favor of the application for full UN membership in the Security Council, foreign minister Riyad Malki said Tuesday after meeting with his Nigerian counterpart.

Olugbenga Ashiru stressed Nigeria’s support for the application for a state on the 1967 borders as well as his hopes for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict, the official Palestinian Authority news agency said.

Nigeria's support is key as the PLO battles for Security Council votes to back its effort to win full UN membership, while the United States is using its diplomatic big guns to make the bid fail.

Last week, Israel's defense minister said he had secured Nigeria's support in the Security Council.

Calls to the office of the Nigerian envoy at the UN were not immediately returned.

The Security Council held its first meeting to discuss the application on Monday and is to meet again Wednesday to formally send the request made by President Mahmoud Abbas to a membership committee.

The PLO campaign faces an uphill struggle as the US has vowed to veto any resolution backing its application. No vote at the 15-member council is expected for several weeks however and frenzied lobbying has started.

On top of campaigning at the UN, PLO officials are to send high level delegations to council members Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria in a bid to win backing, envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour told reporters.

The United States and Israel, which insist that only direct negotiations can produce an accord, are lobbying furiously for council members to oppose or abstain in the resolution.

If the resolution does not get nine votes in favor it will fail and the United States will not have to use its veto.

Nine of the 15 council members already recognize the state, but diplomats say the PLO will struggle to get nine votes.

China, Russia, Lebanon, India, South Africa and Brazil have declared themselves certain to vote for the bid.

AFP contributed to this report.
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