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Date set for Palestinian UN bid

    Ban Ki-Moon
    Ban Ki-Moon

    The Palestinians are planning to take their unilateral bid for independence to the United Nations on September 20.

    The Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Malki, revealed the date in an interview with the AFP news agency on Saturday.

    It means that the Palestinians will ask for recognition as an independent state on the first day of the UN General Assembly's 66th session, when Lebanon will take its turn holding the Security Council presidency.

    Mr al-Malki said: "We will insist on this historic initiative and Ban Ki-Moon will present the request to the Security Council."

    The United States, Israel and a host of other countries have already signal l ed that they will not vote in favour, although other countries including the UK have not made their intentions clear.

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision was an "expected but regrettable step". He criticised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for having "apparently decided to avoid direct negotiations with Israel".

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