Buenos Aires Times

latin america MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS

Outgoing Colombia president moved to recognise Palestine as sovereign state

His government said it would study the implications of last-minute decision by ex-president Santos on the Palestinians, but acknowledged that it was legal.

Thursday 9 August, 2018
Colombia's new President Iván Duque, and his family, are phographed with former president Juan Manuel Santos and his family upon arrival at the presidential palace in Bogotá on Tuesday.
Colombia's new President Iván Duque, and his family, are phographed with former president Juan Manuel Santos and his family upon arrival at the presidential palace in Bogotá on Tuesday. Foto:AFP-Colombian Presidency

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Colombia recognised Palestine as a sovereign state in the last days before new President Iván Duque took office, according to a letter from the Latin American coutnry's Foreign Ministry made public late Wednesday.

"I would like to inform you that in the name of the government of Colombia, President Juan Manuel Santos has decided to recognise Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state," said the letter dated August 3.

The letter was signed by Santos's Foreign Minister María Ángela Holguín.

New Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes said he would review the "implications" of the previous government's decision, in accordance with international law and good diplomatic practice. Though he recognised the move was legal.

"It is a priority for this government to maintain cooperative relations with its allies and friends, and to contribute to international peace and security," Holmes said.

Before the announcement, Colombia had been one of only two countries in the region, along with Panama, not to recognise Palestinian statehood.

Bogotá, an ally of the United States, has historically maintained close ties with Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been scheduled to arrive in Colombia on Monday but called off the trip at the last minute, saying he needed to focus on developments along his country's border with the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian mission in Bogota told AFP that they were told of the decision last Friday. It welcomed the move by Bogota as evidence of "profound efforts to reach a rapprochement."

- AFP

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