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Clinton backs Quartet plan for Middle East peace process talks

The Obama administration, which played a discrete behind-the-scenes role in helping to strike the deal, threw its weight fully behind the Middle East Quartet statement today calling for a resumption of political talks, and publicly pressed the Israelis and Palestinians to participate.

"We urge both parties to take advantage of this opportunity to get back to talks and the United States pledges our support as the parties themselves take the important next steps for a two state solution, which is what all of us are hoping to achieve," Hillary R. Clinton, said after meeting with the Quartet.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and the U.N. Quartet envoy, Tony Blair, said that they would meet with the two sides to persuade them to return to talks within the next month.

"Our objective is to help the parties to reach through negotiations the peace and security that their peoples both deserve," Ashton said. "We hope that the parties will react positively."

Lebanon's U.N. ambassador, Nawaf Salam, who is serving this month as the Security Council rotating president, said that he received the Palestinian statehood request from the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and that he would distribute it to other Security Council members on Monday. 

"I have the profound honor, on behalf of the Palestinian people, to submit this application of the state of Palestine for admission in the United Nations," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wrote in the letter. "This application for membership is being submitted based on the Palestinian people's natural, legal and historic rights" and successive U.N. resolutions.

Diplomats said they did not expect the Security Council to act on the decision any time soon, if at all. The council's main powers, including the United States, Britain, and France, are expected to bury it in bureaucratic limbo. In any event, the United States has made it clear it would veto any resolution on statehood.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, have assured European mediators that they will not push immediately for a vote, allowing time for the Quartet to make progress on political talks, according to diplomatic sources.

In exchange, the Europeans have pledged to look favorably on any potential future Palestinian bid to seek a General Assembly vote on a resolution making Palestine a non-member observer state, roughly the same status as that of the Vatican, though not a full-fledged U.N. member.

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