UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The United States and European powers stepped up a diplomatic scramble Sunday to avoid a UN showdown on the Palestinian plan to seek full UN membership, which the US administration has vowed to veto. US, European Union, Russian and United Nations officials were all involved in the bid to seek a face-saving way out of the looming confrontation at this week's UN General Assembly in New York. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to meet EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton in New York, where the Middle East diplomatic Quartet's envoy, Tony Blair, was to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Blair expressed confidence that a deal could be reached. "I think there is a way of avoiding a confrontation," the former British prime minister told US broadcaster ABC. Tony Blair, the special envoy representing the diplomatic quartet seeking Middle East peace, said Sunday that efforts were underway to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking recognition this week at the United Nations. "What we will be looking for over the next few days is a way of putting together something that allows their claims and legitimate aspirations for statehood to be recognized, whilst actually renewing the only thing that's going to produce a state - which is a negotiation directly between the two sides," Blair told ABC television. Diplomats said that with so few details available of the demand to be made by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, frantic talks were likely to continue right up to the last minute. Frustrated by the lack of progress with Israel and infuriated by its plans for new settlements in the occupied territories, Abbas has said he will ask the UN Security Council to approve full UN membership for a Palestinian state. Israel strongly opposes the move and the United States, a permanent member of the Security Council, has said it will veto any request to the 15 nation body. The United States insists that only direct talks can set up an accord to create a Palestinian state. If a veto is wielded, the Palestinians could then go straight to the UN General Assembly to seek an elevated observer status. It is likely to get a majority of the 193 members and no veto is possible. The United States is trying to convince other members of the Security Council to vote against or abstain in any Palestinian resolution. If it does not secure nine votes, any resolution would fail and the US veto would not be necessary, reducing any US embarrassment. Twelve months ago, US President Barack Obama said he wanted to see a Palestinian state at the UN within a year. Council members Britain, France and Germany will have decisive votes. All of their UN envoys say that no decision on how to vote has been taken because they have not seen a Palestinian resolution. All say that the Palestinians' willingness to return to direct talks will play a central role in their decision. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, ahead of his trip to the UN General Assembly, that any Palestinian bid through the Security Council will fail.