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UNESCO admission is 'first recognition of Palestine': Abbas

palestinianPARIS: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Tuesday UNESCO's admission of Palestine was a key first recognition that he hoped others will follow, as the Palestinian flag was raised at the agency's offices.

"This admission is a first recognition of Palestine," Abbas said at the flag-raising ceremony.

"It is moving to see our flag raised today at a UN agency. I hope that this will be a good omen for Palestine's admission to other international organisations," he said.

"Our admission is a source of pride. Palestine, the land where civilisations met... is having a new rebirth," Abbas said.

"Today we are members of UNESCO and we hope we can have an independent state, living side-by-side with Israel in a spirit of peace," he said.

At the ceremony, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova welcomed Palestine to the agency and said she hoped its admission would be a step toward peace with Israel.

"A solution with two states living in peace and security has been long-awaited," she said. "I want to believe that this admission to UNESCO is a chance to show that peace is also built through education and culture."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2011