Monday, February 25, 2008

Israeli diplomat postpones meeting after Costa Rica recognizes Palestinian state

By Marianela Jimenez

San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - Israel has postponed a planned meeting with Costa Rican officials over the Central American nation's decision to formally recognize a Palestinian state.

The meeting between President Oscar Arias and an Israeli diplomat, scheduled for Wednesday, "was postponed, but we are looking to reschedule," Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno said Monday.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said Israel had summoned the Costa Rican charge d'affaires and instructed its ambassador to convey a message to San Jose.

"We would like to express our disappointment over this regretful decision of the government of Costa Rica to establish full diplomatic relations with the 'state of Palestine,'" Mekel said. "This act of Costa Rica totally contradicts the traditional friendship that characterized its relations with Israel since its establishment."

Stagno has said Costa Rica hoped to encourage peace talks on Feb. 5 when it recognized a Palestinian state - a key demand on the part of the Palestinians.

In August 2006, Arias' administration announced that Costa Rica would move its embassy to Tel Aviv from the hotly disputed city of Jerusalem.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, but most nations don't formally recognize that claim. Costa Rica and El Salvador had been the only two countries with embassies there until announcing in the same month that they would relocate.

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