Middle East

Guatemala recognizes Palestine as 'free, sovereign' state

Handout picture shows the Human Rights Rapporteur of the United Nations, Navi Pillay (L) and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina during a meeting at the presidential palace in Guatemala City, on March 15, 2012. AFP PHOTO/PRESIDENCIA DE GUATEMALA/HO

GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemala has recognized Palestine as a sovereign state in the belief that this will help foster peace in the Middle East, the president's office announced Tuesday.

Guatemala "has decided to join the vast majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries and recognize the State of Palestine, as a free, sovereign and independent State," the statement said.

"This decision in no way alters Guatemala's long tradition of friendship and cooperation with the State of Israel, a relationship the Guatemalan Government highly values," the statement added.

Guatemala wants talks between "the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, backed by the international community, to gain new momentum," the statement added.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has ruled out any return to negotiations while Israel continues to build on land they want for a future state.





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