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Norway Announces Palestinian Embassy, Calls for State in 2011

Norway upgraded the Palestinian diplomatic mission in the country to an embassy and called for the creation of a Palestinian state in 2011.

“We should all cling to the vision of 2011 being the year where we can see a new state on the world stage: a Palestinian state,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said at a press conference in Oslo today.

Stoere met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Oslo today and signed an agreement to support a $90 million program for Palestinian education that’s also backed by Germany, Finland and Ireland, Per Landemoen, a senior adviser at the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview.

Stoere said the accord is part of Norwegian efforts to shore up Palestinian institutions in anticipation of the creation of an independent state.

Direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed in September after less than a month, when Israel resumed building at West Bank settlements after a 10-month moratorium. Palestinian leaders have said they will seek recognition as a state at the United Nations if talks fail.

Argentina and Brazil have both recognized Palestine as a “free and independent state” this month. The European Union on Dec. 13 re-iterated its readiness “when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state.”

Fayyad said today that the Palestinian Authority has no intention of declaring a state unilaterally.

“The only thing we’re doing unilaterally is building our state and working on making the reality of it on the ground throughout,” Fayyad said. “It’s a state that we’re looking for, not yet another declaration of statehood.”

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