(Reuters) - Mexico said on Sunday it was summoning Uruguay's ambassador after Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said that the disappearance of 43 students in southwest Mexico suggests the country is a failed state.

The students, who were likely murdered, were abducted by rogue Mexican police in league with gangs in September, fuelling nationwide protests and creating a political crisis for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

"It gives one the sense, seen from a distance, that this is a kind of failed state, in which public authorities have completely lost control," Mujica said in an interview with Foreign Affairs Latin America that was published on Friday.

Mexico's foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday it was "surprised and categorically rejects some of the comments expressed in the interview."

But late on Sunday, Mujica appeared to backtrack, expressing his solidarity with Mexico and countries such as Honduras and Guatemala, where drug trafficking weighs on national security.

"These nations are not, and will not be failed states...because they have the historical foundations of pre-Columbian nations, their parties and democratic decisions have political capital above and beyond the difficulties of today," Mujica said, according to a statement on the President's website.