Mahmoud Abbas AP Sept. 23, 2010
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the UN General Assembly, Sept. 23, 2010 Photo by AP
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Thailand says it has recognized Palestine as an independent state. Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Friday that Thailand has informed the Palestinian delegation and all member states at the United Nations in New York that it “has given recognition to the state of Palestine.”

The move comes as Palestine pushes for full membership at the UN, a bid Washington opposes because it says a political settlement with Israel must be reached first.

Thailand has friendly ties with Israel and is a major tourist destination for Israeli travelers.

Thai officials have expressed concern that the recent arrest of a Lebanese man allegedly linked to Hezbollah and plotting an attack in Bangkok could hurt ties with Middle Eastern countries.

On Monday, Thai police found 400 boxes of bomb-making materials in a shop believed to be linked to a plot to carry out terrorist attacks.

The materials - urea and ammonium nitrate - were found packed in electric fan boxes in a building 35 kilometers south-east of Bangkok, days after the U.S. embassy warned of possible attacks on tourist sites in the capital.