SAN SALVADOR - The Salvadoran government said yesterday it will seek a posthumous medal for diplomat Jose Arturo Castellanos, who gave citizenship certificates to as many as 40,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

The Righteous Among the Nations recognition is awarded by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, to non-Jews who helped Jews escape death at the hands of the Nazis.

The honor has been given to 21,758 people. But few may have saved as many lives as Castellanos, who was the Salvadoran consul general in Geneva in the early 1940s.

Representing a tiny country almost half a world away, Castellanos authorized Salvadoran citizenship papers to Jews throughout Europe, making it harder for the Nazis to deport them for execution.

Assistant Foreign Minister Eduardo Calix told a news conference yesterday that a two-year investigation helped establish the facts surrounding the efforts by Castellanos, who died at age 86 in his homeland in 1977.

Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez, who is visiting Jerusalem for three days, will deliver the report to Yad Vashem officials.