Uruguayan president-elect Jose Mujica is scheduled to meet next Tuesday with Brazilian president Lula da Silva on the sidelines of the Mercosur summit to be held in Montevideo, according to diplomatic sources.
The agenda for the meeting includes bilateral issues such as the interconnection of the two countries power grids which continues “blocked by Argentina” and which conditions the whole Focem project”.
Focem is the Mercosur Structural Convergence Fund which was specifically created to promote projects in Mercosur junior members Paraguay and Uruguay and is mostly funded by Brazil and Argentina. The idea of Focem is to compensate the so called asymmetries between the economies of the block’s senior and junior members.
Given the Argentine objection, “Brazil is considering the possibility of alternative financing for the project from the BNDES (Brazil social and economic development bank). We’ve been looking at it for the last six months”, added diplomatic sources.
Mujica has described himself as an “admirer” of President Lula da Silva, his style of government but particularly his “capacity for negotiations”. The Uruguayan president elect and Lula da Silva have met several times, the last previous to the first round of the October presidential election. Mujica has also declared he fully supports Mercosur and regional integration, understanding that Brazil has “a natural leadership in the region”.
Mujica is also scheduled to meet in the sidelines of the Mercosur summit with Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The two-day Mercosur summit beginning Monday will be the last for outgoing president Tabare Vazquez who next March first will be replaced by Mujica. Vazquez next week will hand over to Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner the Mercosur chair for the next six months.
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