Mideast negotiators will meet Sunday in Brussels as part of a wider effort to restart the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the European Union said Friday.
"The purpose is to review progress and keep up the momentum, with the overall objective of encouraging the parties to return to negotiations," EU spokesman Michael Mann said.
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The ambassadorial meeting Sunday comes amid international pressure to reach a peace deal by year's end, fueled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' request two weeks ago that the UN recognize an independent Palestinian state.
The Security Council — the only body that can bestow full membership — is reviewing the Palestinian request. But Washington has already pledged to veto any such resolution saying it would worsen prospects for a peace accord.
The Council discussed the Palestinian bid over the weekend in a closed meeting. The panel will reconvene later this week, apparently on Thursday.
Abbas is currently on a tour of Latin America in a bid to secure the support of South American states for his push for statehood at the General Assembly.
On Friday, he met with the Dominican Republic's president Leonel Fernández and addressed the local parliament. The country has already stated it would endorse the Palestinian bid.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, however said he would vote against the bid. "Colombia supports the Palestinian right for a state but wishes it would be achieved through an agreement between the sides so they could really live in peace," Santos said.
During his visit, Abbas noted how close he was to reaching an agreement on core issues with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was then forced to resign.
"Did he fall or was he pushed out? History will expose the truth about Olmert's disappearance from political life and the disappearance of agreements meant to be signed by Israel," Abbas said.
The Palestinian president also criticized Israeli media which he claimed was "trying to drag the Palestinians into a third intifada." He stressed his people will not resort to violence.
Mediators from the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia — known as the Quartet — have been meeting sporadically in a so-far fruitless effort to bring the two sides together again.
The Quartet has proposed a resumption in negotiations with the goal of having an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by the end of 2012. Israel has accepted the proposal with unspecified reservations while the Palestinians have said they will not return to talks until Israel freezes settlement activity and recognizes the pre-1967 frontier as a baseline for border talks.
"We don't expect anything concrete to come out of (Sunday's) meeting," said a diplomat from a Quartet nation who could not be named under standing rules.
Elior Levy contributed to this report
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