Germany not surprised by Sarkozy UN speech

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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Wednesday gave a lukewarm welcome to a proposal by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to admit Palestine to the UN as a non-member state.

"The speech of President Sarkozy had some aspects which are discussed in the international community, so it was not a surprise for us," Westerwelle said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"Everyone who is at the moment discussing this issue knows that these are some pillars of the package."

Westerwelle reiterated that Germany would take into account its special ties with Israel when making its final decision on any vote in the UN Security Council on the Palestinian statehood bid.

"Of course we will introduce this special friendship, special relationship, special responsibility with the background of German history into this discussion," Westerwelle said.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Sarkozy called on the United Nations to upgrade the status of the Palestinians from that of simple observer, but said the Palestinian bid for full membership could not be immediately fulfilled.

Aiming to avoid a showdown and to buy time for fresh peace talks, Sarkozy sought a middle road between the Palestinian plan to ask the UN Security Council to admit Palestine as a full state and the US determination to block the effort with a veto.

Westerwelle earlier called negotiations the only way to achieve "lasting peace" between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We are still counting on negotiations having a chance," he said, amid frantic diplomatic efforts to convince the Palestinians to drop their bid for full UN membership.

© 2011 AFP

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