Santiago, Jan 08 (Agencies): Chile recognised Palestine as an independent State, Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno said, following in the footsteps of several other Latin American countries.

"The Government of Chile has adopted the resolution on Saturday recognising the existence of the State of Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign State," he said, reading a Foreign Ministry declaration.

He added that Chilean President Sebastian Pinera would visit Israel and the Palestinian territories on March 4 and 5.

Late last year, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador recognised Palestine as an independent State. Uruguay has said it will follow suit in 2011.

The Chilean statement did not mention the borders of the Palestinian State, which its South American neighbours said were "within the 1967 borders."

Those were the boundaries that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in that year's Arab-Israeli conflict, known as the Six Day War.

Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Costa Rica had already previously recognised the Palestinian State.

The borders of a final Palestinian state have been one of the thorniest issues in peace negotiations with Israel.

Direct talks between the two sides, the first for nearly two years, began on September 2 but stalled after a 10-month Israeli settlement-building freeze expired three weeks later.