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Latvia to abstain from voting on Palestinian United Nations bid

Edgars Rinkevics. Photo: Evija Trifanova/LETA.
 RIGA, Nov 29 - Latvia will abstain from voting on the Palestinian bid for an upgraded United Nations (UN) membership status, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics revealed.

''It is unfortunate that the European Union has not been able to come to a common position on this matters. Latvia will abstain from the UN vote,'' the foreign minister wrote in his ''Twitter'' account.

The AFP news agency reports that Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas will head to the UN General Assembly on Thursday with huge backing for his bid for upgraded diplomatic status despite strong U.S. and Israeli opposition.

Abbas will ask for the Palestinians to be recognized as a UN "non-member observer state" and lay out his conditions for talks with Israel in a key speech to the 193-member assembly.

The Palestinians say 132 countries recognize their state bilaterally, but some of those are expected to abstain while many European nations are expected to vote in favor even though they have not recognized a Palestinian state.

Thursday's motion requires a simple majority of those members present and voting in order to pass, and the bid is widely expected to be approved, the AFP points out.

The United States, a staunch ally of Israel, has launched an aggressive campaign against the bid, warning that the vote will do nothing to improve the prospects for new peace talks aimed at ending the decades-long conflict.
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