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US senators urge Costa Rica to vote against Palestinian statehood

Two key US senators urged the presidents of Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama to oppose the Palestinians’ efforts to gain UN recognition of their state next month in letters sent Thursday.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Marco Rubio – chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere – said such a step would hurt Middle East peace efforts.

“We encourage you to oppose any resolution that may come before the UN General Assembly seeking to impose a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN,” the lawmakers wrote the presidents.

The lawmakers noted that the US Senate had recently unanimously approved a symbolic resolution warning that the Palestinian bid for UN membership could lead to US aid cuts.

“Therefore, a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN is not in the best interest of the Palestinian people or conducive to the ultimate objective of two democratic states living side by side in peace and security,” they said.

The Palestinians have said they will formally submit their request for UN membership to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 20 when world leaders begin gathering in New York for the 66th session of the General Assembly.

US President Barack Obama opposes the move, as does an overwhelming majority of the US Congress.

The letters, dated Wednesday but sent Thursday, went to Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla, Colombian President Manuel Santos and Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli.

US free trade deals with Colombia and Panama are expected to face votes in the US Congress in the coming months.

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