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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tours Latin America

October 10, 2011 |  5:02 pm

Mahmoud Abbas
REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was touring Latin America this week, his second visit to the distant region in less than a year as part of a worldwide lobbying effort to gain recognition for a Palestinian state.

Abbas met officials in the Colombian capital of Bogotaon Monday, a day after announcing with President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador plans to establish diplomatic ties there. Until recently, El Salvador was one of Israel’s closest allies in Latin America.

“We are very interested in developing our relations with all the countries of the American continent,” Abbas said in San Salvador, according to a Spanish translation of his remarks.

The Palestinians began drumming up support in Latin America last year as part of a strategy to create momentum for their eventual U.N. bid for statehood. In response, major countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Chile formally recognized a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, months before the issue dominated this year’s session of the United Nations General Assembly.

At the meetings in New York last month, Abbas filed an official request for “Palestine” to be recognized as a U.N. member nation. The 15-member Security Council is divided over whether to elevate the Palestinians to full membership, however, and lengthy deliberations are likely before any vote is scheduled.


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-- Tracy Wilkinson

Photo: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech in Bogota, Colombia, on Oct. 10, 2011. Credit: John Vizcaino / Reuters