Argentina recognizes Palestine pre-1967 borders

BUENOS AIRES Tue Dec 7, 2010 3:11am EST

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's government said Monday it had decided to recognize a Palestinian state based on borders before the 1967 war, following a similar move days earlier by neighboring Brazil.

The Foreign Ministry said center-left President Cristina Fernandez had informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the decision in a letter.

"The Argentine government shares the belief of its Mercosur partners Brazil and Uruguay that the time has come to recognize Palestine as a free and independent state," Foreign Minister Hector Timerman told reporters in Buenos Aires.

The foreign ministry said the recognition is in line with Argentina's efforts to defend "the right that Palestinian people have to build and independent state, as well as the right that Israel has to live in peace with its neighbors within safe borders that are recognized internationally."

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent a letter in late November to the Palestine government to recognize the state of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders, the country's foreign ministry said last week.

According to Argentina's government more than 100 countries have recognized the state of Palestine within the borders of land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

The foreign ministry said the recognition was in response to a request made by Abbas during a visit to Argentina last year.

(Reporting by Helen Popper and Juliana Castilla; Writing by Eduardo Garcia, editing by Philip Barbara)

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