Tuesday, June 8th 2010 - 18:41 UTC

New round of talks in Paraguay to consider Venezuela’s Mercosur incorporation

Top level discussions will be held between members of the Paraguayan Executive and Congress to try and convince lawmakers to vote Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur and Paraguayan membership of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) that have been stalled for months.

Foreign Affairs minister Héctor Lacognata

Vice president Federico Franco and Foreign Affairs minister Hector Lacognata have been instructed to approach Congress on these two issues which are hampering the country’s foreign policy plus other more administrative issues as the naming of ambassadors.

Relations between President Fernando Lugo and Congress have been strained since the catch-all coalition that supported him suffered internal disputes and the government lost control of the Senate, which is decisive in matters relative to foreign policy such as voting on agreements and treaties.

“Together with Vice president Franco we have taken the initiative of sitting down with the Senate’s Foreign Relations commission to discuss several pressing issues such as Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur, Paraguay’s Unasur membership and filling vacant embassies”, said minister Lacognata.

The round of talks with Senators are conditioned to a first meeting of President Lugo with the leaders of the different political parties with congressional representation when “restructuring of the Executive and State reforms will be addressed”, anticipated Lacognata.

The minister offered no timetable for the round of talks and added they were not linked to the renewal of the Senate’s commission’s authorities or members.

Last year the administration of President Lugo was forced to withdraw the bill for the incorporation of Venezuela to Mercosur when he was informed he lacked the sufficient votes. Something similar happens with Unasur. In both cases a decisive majority of Senators is highly critical of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, whom they describe as “a negative influence” for the region and head of an “authoritarian regime”.

They also believe that President Chavez is behind the Unasur initiative.

Venezuela’s incorporation to Mercosur is pending since 2006 when it was first approved at a presidential summit. Argentine and Uruguayan lawmakers soon voted on the initiative but the Brazilian Senate took its time, having only done so last year. The only vote pending now is from Paraguay’s Senators.
 

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