Obama tells Abbas of opposition to UN move

US President Barack Obama told Mahmud Abbas that his administration opposes a Palestinian bid for non-state membership of the UN, both sides said.

"There was a long telephone conversation between president Mahmud Abbas and Barack Obama," the Palestinian leader's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

"Obama expressed the opposition of the United States to the decision to go to the UN General Assembly."

Abbas explained "the reasons and motives for the Palestinian decision to go to the UN ... including the continued (Jewish) settlement activity and Israeli aggression against citizens and property," Abu Rudeina said.

In a subsequent statement, the White House said Obama had "reiterated the United States' opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations" in the call to Abbas.

Obama "reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security," it said.

The president said he hoped he and Abbas would "continue cooperating closely in the future," it added, noting that Obama was returning a congratulatory call made by the Palestinian leader after his re-election last week.

Israel and the United States are both opposed to the Palestinian plan, insisting that a Palestinian state can only result from peace negotiations, which have been suspended for the past two years.

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