UN chief backs 2-state solution in talks with Palestinians

UN chief backs 2-state solution in talks with Palestinians
FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2018 file photo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Western-backed Palestinian Authority is threatening to step up pressure on Hamas amid renewed tensions in Gaza, even as Israel allows a lifeline of Qatari aid to flow directly to the Islamic militants. Abbas wants to reassert his authority over Gaza, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to preserve calm ahead of April's elections. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and stressed again that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only path to peace.

Guterres’ strong backing for an independent Palestinian state came ahead of the release of a long-awaited U.S. plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace and Israeli elections in April.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Guterres also congratulated Abbas during Monday’s meeting on the election of the Palestinians to preside over the Group of 77, a bloc of 134 mainly developing nations and China that promotes their collective interests at the United Nations. Abbas will take over the chairmanship from Egypt on Tuesday.

As Abbas and his entourage left U.N. headquarters, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters: “It was a good meeting.”