US Vice President Mike Pence urges Paraguay to reconsider decision to move Israeli embassy back to Tel Aviv
Turkey will open an embassy in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion, the South American country said on Thursday, a day after President Mario Abdo reversed the previous administration's decision to move its diplomatic mission in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Turkey's ambassador to Paraguay has been operating out of Buenos Aires. Turkey has a consulate in Asuncion and another in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.
By opening the embassy, Turkey is expressing support for Paraguay's stance on Israel, Paraguay's Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni told reporters.
Paraguay and Guatemala relocated their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem after US President Donald Trump recognised the city as the country's capital in December, in a move denounced by most of the international community.
In a phone call on Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence urged Abdo to stick to his predecessor's decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, the White House said in a statement.
"The vice president strongly encouraged President Abdo Benitez to follow through with Paraguay’s previous commitment to move the embassy as a sign of the historic relationship the country has maintained with both Israel and the United States," the statement said.
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Hours after Paraguay's new government announced it would move its embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, Israel responded by ordering the closure of its embassy in Paraguay.
The Palestinian Authority hailed Paraguay's "honourable" decision on Wednesday, announcing that it will "immediately" open an embassy in the Paraguayan capital.
Most countries do not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, arguing that peace talks should determine the city's final status. Paraguay cited this as one reason to move its embassy back to Tel Aviv.
Castiglioni said he expected to meet his Turkish counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.
Paraguay considers Israel's decision to close its embassy hasty and disproportionate, and hopes Israeli authorities will reconsider, Castiglioni said.