Uruguay recognizes Palestinian state

MONTEVIDEO Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:00pm EDT

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguay said on Tuesday it had recognized a Palestinian state, becoming the latest in a string of Latin American countries to make an endorsement in recent months the United States has called premature.

Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia have recently recognized the Palestine state along borders that existed before the 1967 war. Chile and Peru have also given recognition to a Palestinian state, but without specifying borders.

A foreign ministry source told Reuters Uruguay recognized the Palestinian state without specifying borders "to avoid interfering in an issue that would require a bilateral agreement."

In a statement, the foreign ministry said the decision to recognize a Palestine state showed Uruguay's firm commitment to the Middle East peace process.

"We have a longing shared by most of the international community that in the near future, the Palestinian and Israeli people can coexist in peace," the statement said.

Palestinian authorities are hoping for a diplomatic domino effect to support their claim for a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel disputes the Palestinian claim on the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, areas it captured from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967 and has extensively settled.

Peace negotiations have stalled several times over the last few years.

In December, Israel said the recognition of a Palestinian state by Latin American countries was "highly damaging interference" by parties that were never part of the Middle East peace process.

U.S. Under Secretary of State William Burns said in a visit to Chile late last year that the move by Latin American nations was premature.

(Reporting by Malena Castaldi; Writing by Luis Andres Henao; Editing by Todd Eastham)

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