Regional Parliament and expansion.
Argentine and Brazilian presidents Nestor Kirchner and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced this Wednesday in Brasilia the creation of a Mercosur Parliament and the expansion of regional integration to include the Andean countries, particularly Peru.
"We're already working for the creation in a relatively short time, of a Mercosur Parliament, to be elected by direct vote", stated Mr. Lula da Silva after holding a four hours meeting with his Argentine counterpart Mr. Kirchner and a small delegation of advisors.
"Lula and I have expressed the joint interest of Argentina and Brazil to expand Mercosur, particularly closer links with Peru, and agreements with other members of the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela)", indicated Mr. Kirchner who insisted that "we must open doors to ensure a quick incorporation of the Andean nations".
Mr. Kirchner visited Mr. Lula to formally establish a "strategic alliance" between Argentina and Brazil, plus strengthening Mercosur, as had been agreed by both leaders before the Argentine president took office.
"There's much to work on in Mercosur", highlighted Mr. Lula after the meeting adding that the "good relations between Argentina and Brazil is the cornerstone and best reason to ensure a successful Mercosur. This strategic model will encourage our South American brothers to really integrate, leaving behind electoral promises and showing facts".
The Brazilian president anticipated that the four members of Mercosur, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, will coordinate international negotiations, "the governments of the four member countries will jointly face the challenges of the trade talks in the World Trade Organization, the Free Trade Association of the Americas and with the European Union".
This was Mr. Kirchner's first overseas trip since taking office May 25. The two leaders had met in early May when the Lula da Silva administration openly favoured Mr. Kirchner over Mr. Carlos Menem and again during the assumption ceremony.
"We could very well be announcing the beginning of a historic change and time, when the idea of a region of pompous speeches but little action, will definitively be buried", stressed Mr. Kirchner who described Mercosur as the "central tool for the task of regional integration".