Iceland has become the first Western European country to formally recognize the Palestinian Territories as an independent state. The announcement was made by Iceland's Foreign Minister, in the presence of his Palestinian counterpart.

Ossur Skarphedinsson, Iceland's Foreign Minister said, "This is the day when we formally submit to you our declaration where we say that Iceland recognizes the full sovereignty of the Palestinian people of Palestine on the basis of the borders pre 1967. And Iceland didn't only talk the talk, we walked the walk, we stood by our word, we have supported the Palestinian cause and today will not be the end of that. We will continue to do so."

Riad Malki, Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, said, "Allow me to say that this important recognition will have very positive implications in terms of helping us achieve peace. Given the fact that Iceland is the first country among the countries of western and northern Europe to recognize the state of Palestine, it will surely have a positive influence on other states to follow the same steps."

Thursday's announcement comes three months after the Palestinians began to seek full membership in the UN. Earlier in November, Iceland's parliament voted in favour of recognizing the state. Most Eastern European countries have already recognised Palestine. Israel and the US oppose any recognition of a Palestinian state not resulting from negotiations. Washington's major Western European allies share this position.