Argentina's President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, said her country intends to spearhead the increased involvement of Latin American states in the Mideast peace process.
Kirchner announced the decision over the weekend at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, where she met an Israeli-Palestinian delegation of the Peace NGO Forum. The delegation included Dr. Ron Pundak, the former director of the Peres Peace Center, Dr. Meir Margalit, Jerusalem city council member (Meretz), Nancy Sadiq, CEO of the Panorama organization in Ramallah, and Saman Khoury, co-chairman of the Forum.
The delegation asked Kirchner to assist in renewing Israeli-Palestinian talks in order to achieve a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines. Khoury warned that if negotiations are not resumed the region could fall into a crisis with serious global ramifications.
"In November 2011 the Peace NGO Forum sent an open letter to Latin-American governments requesting their intervention in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the Forum said in a statement. "In view of the relationships of trust which both Israelis and Palestinians maintain with Latin-American governments who enjoy an increasingly international status as an emerging economic power, the delegation members hold the conviction that Latin America can influence the parties to the conflict."
On Friday, the delegation met with Jewish and Arab Jewish community leaders and the deputy foreign minister. This was the first time the representatives from both communities met since the Second Lebanon War. The leaders expressed support for the Forum's initiative.
In 2010, Argentina and Uruguay announced that they intend to join Brazil in recognizing an independent Palestinian state, provoking sharp criticism from Israel. Other Latin American states that recognize a Palestinian state include Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador.
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