SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador on Thursday recognized Palestine as an independent state in the midst of a drive by the Arab League to upgrade it to full membership status in the United Nations.
"This decision was made in the context of the profound respect El Salvador has for sovereign decisions by members of the United Nations, the majority of whom have recognized the Palestinian state," El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes told a news conference.
Full member status would require approval in the U.N. Security Council, where Israel's ally the United States has said it will veto any such resolution.
Funes, who belongs to the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, said he hoped his decision would help foster peace in Israel, adding that he supported the country's right to maintain secure borders.
About 120 countries have recognized the state of Palestine to date.
The Palestinians, who currently have U.N. "observer" status, had previously pledged to seek U.N. endorsement in September for their claim of sovereignty in the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The move has gained momentum with the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The Arab League formally backed this plan in May.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Bill Trott)