US: Pence urges Paraguay to reverse embassy move

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence urged Paraguay to reverse its decision to move its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, the White House said Thursday.

"The Vice President strongly encouraged President [Mario] 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," it said in a statement.

The two men spoke over the phone Wednesday, following an announcement by Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni that the country’s embassy in Israel would be relocated back to Tel Aviv, reversing a controversial decision by the previous administration to move it to Jerusalem.

Israel responded angrily to the move, announcing plans to close its embassy in Asuncion.

"President Abdo Benitez underscored Paraguay’s lasting partnership with Israel and the leaders agreed to work towards achieving a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," said the statement.

On May 21, following the lead of the U.S. and Guatemala, Paraguay announced the relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem, drawing angry reactions from the Arab and Muslim world.

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