MADRID (AFP) -- Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez told visiting President Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that Madrid backs efforts to create an independent Palestinian state, the government said.
Abbas met with Jimenez and Spain's King Juan Carlos at the start of a two-day visit to the country aimed at drumming up support for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.
"The minister expressed the desire to continue the work which has been carried out over the past years to strengthen ties and support efforts by the Palestinian National Authority to build a future Palestinian state," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Jimenez also told Abbas that the bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state was "legitimate" and said Madrid would determine its position "based on the proposals that arise, in a constructive spirit".
Abbas will Wednesday meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in Madrid before heading to Barcelona where he will hold talks with the new head of the Union for the Mediterranean, Morocco's Youssef Amrani.
He arrived in Spain from Norway and will head to Turkey after leaving Barcelona on Wednesday.
The United States has been cool to the idea of UN recognition and has urged the Palestinian government in Ramallah and Israel not to take unilateral steps that could jeopardize a final peace settlement.