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Abbas arrives in New York to head Group of 77 and China

Jan. 14, 2019 1:00 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 15, 2019 11:05 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in New York City in the United States, on Monday, to take over presidency from Egypt of the Group of 77 (G77) and China during a ceremony to be held at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, who described the event as historical, said that Abbas is going to deliver a speech at the General Assembly in which he will express gratitude for choosing Palestine to chair the UN’s largest bloc in 2019.

“This is an important historical event added to the political achievements of the State of Palestine since it joined the UN as an observer state in 2012,” he said. “It is also an important achievement to assert the Palestinian identity in the international community, which colonial powers have tried to abolish over many centuries.”

The G77, founded in 1964, was named as such after 77 UN member states created it to promote collective economic interests in the United Nations. Its membership later grew to 134 countries and China joined it but not as a member. The bloc represents 80 percent of the world’s population and speaks as one voice.

Abbas is accompanied in the trip to UN by Riyad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates and Majdi al-Khalidi, the president’s diplomatic adviser, Palestine’s ambassador to UN, Riyad Mansour, and Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Mansour told the Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa News and Information Agency that all efforts will be exerted to make Palestine’s presidency of the G77 a success.

“We will do all we can, under President Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership, to make our presidency over the Group of 77 and China in 2019 a success to win the world’s confidence and respect for Palestine, its officials and leadership,” he said.

He said that Palestine is going to negotiate development and economic issues on behalf of the group, which make over 70 percent of the United Nations development agenda.

Palestine was elected as a non-member observer state at the United Nations in November 2012 after failing to get full membership, which is required to pass a vote in the UN Security Council, following US opposition. As an observer state, Palestine is not allowed to vote but can join all UN member organizations.

Taking the presidency of the G77 by an overwhelming vote in October with 146 countries voting in favor, three opposed (the United States, Israel and Australia), and 15 abstaining was seen as a great advance for the Palestinian efforts to get international recognition. The vote also elevated the legal status of Palestine at the UN to allow it to lead the largest UN bloc and represent it in all UN forums and events.
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