William Hague (R) 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
LONDON - Britain said on Monday it was raising the status of the Palestinian Authority's London office, though the move fell short of diplomatic recognition.
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"Given the extent of our aid to the Palestinian Authority and our work with them, we will join many other countries in upgrading the status of the Palestinian delegation to London to the level of a mission," Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament.
Hague is due to hold talks in London on Tuesday with visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The move means that the current Palestinian "general delegation" office
in London becomes the Palestinian mission and the head of delegation
becomes known as the head of mission.
It also introduces simplified visa arrangements for members of the mission.
But it falls short of Britain conferring formal diplomatic status on the
mission, which would imply recognizing a Palestinian state.
"It's us recognising the progress the Palestinian government has made in
building the foundations of a viable Palestinian state, building
institutions, but it doesn't mean we've decided to recognise a
Palestinian state," a British official said.
It follows similar moves by France, Spain and Portugal.
"We want to see an urgent return to negotiations, based on clear
parameters including 1967 borders. We will work with all the parties to
press for a decisive breakthrough this year," Hague told parliament.