Palestinian minister delivers UN membership requests

AFP , Wednesday 2 Apr 2014

Riyad Al-Maliki
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki attends a news conference in Madrid April 23, 2008 (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said Wednesday he has delivered requests for membership of several UN agencies, as part of a move that shook a fragile Middle East peace process.

"I presented the letters signed by (Palestinian president Mahmoud) Abbas this morning to UN special envoy Robert Serry, as well as to the representatives of the Netherlands and Switzerland," said Malki.

He said the Palestinians had begun the "technical process" required to obtain membership of some 15 international conventions and covenants, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

"This action does not detract from the importance of negotiations. We are still committed to these talks," he said.

Abbas said Tuesday he had begun steps to join several UN agencies and ratify international treaties, angering Israel and prompting US Secretary of State John Kerry to cancel a trip to Ramallah on Wednesday.

The announcement was a blow to Kerry's frenetic efforts to resolve a dispute over Palestinian prisoners and find a way to extend the fragile peace talks beyond a looming April 29 deadline.

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