Mario Abdo Benitez
Mario Abdo BenitezReuters

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez on Thursday urged Israel to reconsider the closing of its embassy in Asuncion, a move announced by Israel in response to the South American country's decision to move its embassy back to Tel Aviv.

"I regret Israel's decision. The reaction of closing the embassy was a little exaggerated and we urge authorities to reconsider it," Abdo Benitez said at a news conference, according to The Associated Press.

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.

The Paraguayan embassy was relocated to Jerusalem in May. With the move, Paraguay followed in the footsteps of the US and Guatemala, which unveiled its new Jerusalem embassy on May 16, two days after the US relocated its embassy to Jerusalem.

But on Wednesday, Paraguayan Foreign Minister Luis Castiglioni announced that the embassy would move back to Tel Aviv, explaining that "Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East."

Abdo Benitez later explained the decision to move the embassy back to Tel Aviv was meant for Israelis and Palestinian Arabs “to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

US Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Abdo Benitez on Wednesday and "strongly encouraged" the Paraguayan leader to follow through with its previous commitment to move the embassy to Jerusalem, the White House said in a statement earlier on Thursday.