Jerusalem: Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has decided to seek advice and support from European leaders on Wednesday on the potential creation of a Palestinian state this year.

The trip comes with talks between Israel and the Palestinians still in deep freeze, and as the Palestinians seem increasingly determined to seek United Nations recognition for a unilateral declaration of statehood.

Abbas said he would be asking his French counterpart President Nicolas Sarkozy "for his advice" on the best approach for seeking recognition for an independent Palestinian state.

"We are friends, so he can be sincere with us and to talk to us openly," Abbas said of the French leader, who he is expected to meet on Thursday.

The Palestinian leader's trip to France is part of a diplomatic swing that has already taken him in recent weeks to Britain, Denmark and Russia, and will be followed in May with
a visit to Germany.

It comes at a time when the Palestinian leadership seems increasingly committed to pressing for UN recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, to include the West
Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. But that course of action is fiercely opposed by Israel, and has run into strong resistance from the United States.

Washington has also expressed opposition to a European plan to offer a new initiative defining the "parameters" of a final peace deal -- particularly with regard to security and
borders -- in the hope of kick-starting peace talks.

In a bid to avoid further discussion of the plan, which is reportedly being championed by Britain, France and Germany, Washington called off a meeting of the peacemaking Quartet scheduled for this month, diplomats said.

 

(Agencies)