People demonstrate outside the presidential residence in Asuncion on September 06, 2018 against the government's decision of moving its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: US Vice President Mike Pence urged Paraguay’s new president to stick to his predecessor’s decision to move its embassy in Israel to occupied Jerusalem, Pence’s office said on Thursday after Paraguay announced plans to shift the diplomatic mission back to Tel Aviv.

The South American country on Wednesday dealt a blow to the Israeli regime’s quest for recognition of occupied Jerusalem as its capital, which appeared to have gained some traction this year when the United States, followed by Guatemala and Paraguay, relocated embassies there.

Most countries do not recognise the Israeli regime’s sovereignty over the entire city.

Pence, who played a main role in President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, spoke on Wednesday to Paraguayan President Mario Abdo, who was elected on August 15.

Pence “strongly encouraged” Abdo to follow through with Paraguay’s commitment to move the embassy to occupied 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.

Former Paraguay President Horacio Cartes opened the new embassy in occupied Jerusalem on May 21, just days after the US and Guatemala did.

Hours after Paraguay announced its change on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by ordering the closure of his regime’s embassy in Paraguay.

The statement from Pence’s office did not say how Abdo responded to the vice president’s request.

It said only that Abdo “underscored Paraguay’s lasting partnership with Israel and the leaders agreed to work towards achieving a comprehensive and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Abdo on Wednesday defended his decision as part of an effort to support “broad, lasting and just peace” among Israelis and Palestinians.