(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to travel to the Middle East next week for talks on the Palestinian push to win UN statehood, an EU source said Thursday.
Ashton will leave early next week for Cairo to meet Arab League ministers and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said the source, who asked not to be identified.
She will also travel to Israel as part of her efforts to ensure the Palestinian resolution to be put to the UN later this month "can get broader support," the source added.
News of her visit came as the Palestinians launched a campaign in support of their bid to become the UN's 194th member state.
At talks in Poland last weekend, European Union foreign ministers struggled to find common ground on the Palestinian bid, hotly criticised by some nations, notably Israel and the United States.
Split between themselves on the move, EU ministers urged both Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct peace talks while offering to take a lead role in hammering out a solution acceptable to all sides.
"Our idea is to work to find the grounds for a resolution that would be acceptable to the different parties," said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. "It is possible to find such a balance."
As Israel's leading economic partner and the Palestinians' leading donor, Ashton urged the EU to remain united while insisting there could be no common position, other than the need for a resumption of peace talks, until the Palestinians issued further details on the push.
"There is no resolution before the UN yet," she said.
Washington has warned it will block the move in the UN Security Council.
If the bid is vetoed there, the Palestinians plan to turn to the General Assembly where they are expected to easily win the votes needed to upgrade their representation from observer body to non-member state.
— EUbusiness - legal, business and economic news from Europe and the EU