Portuguese PM not as keen as Spain's leader on Palestine statehood

Spain's PM Sanchez and Portugal's PM Montenegro arrive for a press conference at Moncloa Palace in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) - Portugal's new prime minister told his Spanish counterpart on Monday his country will "not go as far" as Spain in its plan to recognise a Palestinian state without a concerted European Union approach.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has visited several countries in the past few days on a diplomatic campaign to garner support for the initiative, reiterated his plan to recognise Palestinian statehood in the coming months.

But Luis Montenegro, who met Sanchez in Madrid, said that while Portugal will support a full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state in an upcoming General Assembly vote, it would wait for the EU to work out a common stance on the matter before moving forward.

"We don't go as far as other governments... because we maintain that understanding must be built on a multilateral basis within the European Union and the United Nations," Montenegro told reporters.

Both leaders called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza where death toll from Israel's offensive to rout out Hamas has been mounting, prompting calls for a lasting solution for peace in the region. Both also condemned Iran's missile attack on Israel over the weekend.

"We need to immediately launch a peace process for which Spain has been advocating since the beginning of the crisis and base it on the two-state solution," Sanchez said.

"We are talking with a number of EU member states, also states from outside the European Union, so that there are a few of us who take this step together (recognition). But in any case, the Spanish government is going to take that step."

Spain, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia last month announced that they would jointly work toward the recognition of a Palestinian state, prompting a rebuke from Israel which said their initiative would amount to a "prize for terrorism" and reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the conflict.

Since 1988, 139 out of 193 United Nations member states have recognised Palestinian statehood.

(Reporting by Corina Pons, Sergio Goncalves, Andrei Khalip; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)