Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Oct 14 AP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waves at the Palestinian Presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010. Photo by AP
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Ecuador President Rafael Correa formally recognized Palestine as an independent state on Friday, following its neighboring countries Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay earlier this month, French news agency AFP reported.

According to AFP, Correa signed "the Ecuadoran government's official recognition of Palestine as a free and independent state with 1967 borders."

Ecuador's foreign ministry issued a statement explaining that the country's decision "vindicates the valid and legitimate desire of the Palestinian people for a free and independent state," AFP reported.

On Thursday, Uruguay announced that they planned to join Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia in recognizing a Palestinian state, and that they would formally do so in January 2011.

Palestinians have been seeking international recognition of a state at a time when talks on a long-term peace settlement with Israel are deadlocked.

Earlier this month, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina recognized Palestine as an independent state within its borders prior to 1967, in decisions that the United States and Israel slammed as counterproductive and damaging.