Turkey to open Paraguay embassy after policy shift on Israeli capital
In display of support for new new Paraguayan president's reversal of commitment to move embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Turkish ambassador will begin operating in Asuncion instead of Buenos Aires; Paraguay's president says Israel’s response to shut down Israeli mission was ‘a little exaggerated.’
Turkey’s ambassador to Paraguay has been operating out of Buenos Aires. Turkey has a consulate in Asuncion and another in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.
By opening the embassy, Turkey is expressing support for Paraguay’s stance on Israel, Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni told reporters.
Paraguay and Guatemala relocated their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem after US President Donald Trump recognized the city as the country’s capital in December.
Hours after Paraguay’s new government announced on Wednesday it would move its embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem, Israel responded by ordering the closure of its embassy in Paraguay.
Most countries do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, arguing that peace talks should determine the city’s final status. Paraguay cited this as one reason to move its embassy back to Tel Aviv.
Castiglioni said he expected to meet his Turkish counterpart at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.
Paraguay considers Israel’s decision to close its embassy hasty and disproportionate, and hopes Israeli authorities will reconsider, Castiglioni said.
On Thursday, Benitez urged Israel to reconsider the closing of its embassy in Asuncion, calling it an "exaggerated" response to the South American country's Jerusalem embassy decision.
"I regret Israel's decision. The reaction of closing the embassy was a little exaggerated and we urge authorities to reconsider it," Benitez said at a news conference in Itapua, 273 miles (440 kilometers) south of Asuncion.
He said Paraguay would "stick to international law and the United Nations' resolution that still considers it a territory in conflict" between Israel and the Palestinians.
US Vice President Mike Pence urged Paraguay's new president to stick to his predecessor's decision, Pence's office said on Thursday.
Pence "strongly encouraged" Benitez to follow through with Paraguay's commitment to move the embassy to Jerusalem "as a sign of the historic relationship the country has maintained with both Israel and the United States," Pence's office said in a statement.