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Montevideo, November 19th 2018 - 14:01 UTC

Argentina ready to take Mercosur chair: priority is the trade accord with Europe

Tuesday, December 13th 2016 - 10:32 UTC
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Not ignoring controversy over Venezuela, Malcorra insisted that priority are talks with the EU and advancing on a common agenda. Not ignoring controversy over Venezuela, Malcorra insisted that priority are talks with the EU and advancing on a common agenda.

Argentina's priority as chair of Mercosur which it will officially take over this week will be to advance negotiations with the European Union for a wide ranging trade agreement which will not include Venezuela, anticipated foreign minister Susana Malcorra .

 “One of the most important issues for Mercosur, if not the most pressing are negotiations with the European Union, this is a priority, and Venezuela has always being absent of these talks” pointed out the Argentine minister who on Wednesday in a low key ceremony will be taking the Mercosur chair.

Not ignoring the fact that the suspension of a country member is something very serious, (in reference to Venezuela), Malcorra insisted that what must be ensured is that the four founding members of the group advance on a common agenda.

The four founding members, (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) last December first suspended Venezuela when the three months timetable for the regime of president Nicolas Maduro to incorporate rules and rulings of Mercosur was up and non complied, particularly those referred to trade and human rights. However Venezuela has rejected the suspension and argues it was motivated on political grounds.

Argentina is scheduled to take the Mercosur chair Wednesday at the Foreign Ministry, in Buenos Aires, an event at foreign ministers levels, not presidential summit as usual, and to which Venezuelan minister Delcy Rodríguez has promised to attend.

These six months which should have had Venezuela at the chair were particularly controversial, since the founding members disagreed on having Maduro representing Mercosur given the political turmoil in the country and violation of human rights. But Maduro self proclaimed it held the chair while the other members created a transition council with four representatives to keep the common agenda alive.

Supposedly Wednesday should put an end to the controversial period, which had three members decisively willing to condemn Venezuela, while Uruguay, whose ruling coalition is divided on the issue had a more hesitant, foot dragging attitude, to the extent that Maduro has demanded to have a personal meeting with Uruguay's Tabare Vázquez as soon as possible on the matter.

President Vázquez has argued that dialogue is the only path possible and admits that the three branches of government in Venezuela exist and function to the extent that one of them is held by the opposition, the legislative Assembly.

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