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Belgium raises Palestinian diplomatic status

Nov. 10, 2013 1:37 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 12, 2013 2:21 P.M.)
BRUSEELS (AFP) -- Belgium said Saturday it had raised the standing of a Palestinian diplomatic delegation to the country to "mission" status in a show of commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders confirmed the change from "general delegation" to "mission" after signing an agreement during a bilateral meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas during a visit to Jordan.

"The raising (of status) reflects Belgian and European support for the two-state solution," Reynders said in a statement, adding that the head of the mission could use the title of ambassador.

Reynders signed the agreement during a bilateral meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday in the Jordanian capital of Amman as part of a visit that included a trip to the Palestinian territories and that will take him to Israel next week.

The move had been planned since November 2012 when Belgium and was among 138 countries in the United Nations General Assembly to vote to recognize Palestine as a "non-member observer state".

Germany and the United Kingdom abstained from the vote, and the United States and Israel were among just nine countries that came out against the motion, arguing that the path to statehood should pass through direct peace talks.
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