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U.N. panel to take up Palestine bid

The U.N. Security Council will meet Wednesday to start the process of formally considering the Palestinian request for membership in the world body, the council president said Monday.

Lebanese Ambassador Nawaf Salam, who holds this month's rotating presidency, made a brief appearance before reporters Monday. He said the council had met Monday afternoon and decided to take up a decision on referring the issue for further consideration in two days. That will consist of forming a committee to study the Palestinian submission.

The United States has said it would use its Security Council veto to block Palestinian membership should the measure receive the necessary nine of 15 votes. That would keep the membership bid from moving forward to the 193-member General Assembly for the needed two-thirds vote. A vote in the Security Council was not expected for weeks, at the least.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe confidential diplomacy, said Monday that they were telling fellow council members that there's no rush to act on the bid submitted Friday over U.S. and Israeli objections.

The United States hopes that going slowly may allow Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to resume without a confrontation at the world body.

Earlier Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Makati at the U.N. to make the U.S. argument. Lebanon, the only Arab member of the 15-member Council, is expected to support the Palestinian bid.

The Palestinian envoy to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, said he was grateful to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for quickly forwarding the request to the Security Council. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday submitted the application that Palestine become the United Nations' 194th member.

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