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Security, mutual trust and migration in Unasur dialogue with Washington

Thursday, June 3rd 2010 - 22:58 UTC
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected in Quito Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected in Quito

The need for a mutual-trust environment, which helps avoid situations of possible conflicts inside the region, is one of the main points the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, will be discussing with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Ecuadorian diplomatic sources.

Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to visit Quito, next June 8, where she will be meeting Ecuadorian officials both regarding bilateral issues and multilateral, since Ecuador currently holds the rotating chair of Unasur.

Ecuadorian Foreign Affairs ministers Ricardo Patiño underlined the importance for Unasur to hold talks with “such an important international affairs player and large and influential country as the United States”, so that “through dialogue we can overcome any possible difficulties or differences”.

“We want to continue as a continent of peace”, said Patiño insisting on the importance of pointing out to Mrs Clinton the need for mutual trust and confidence, so as to avoid situations that could lead to internal conflicts in South America•”.

Although a majority of Unasur twelve members are concerned over the presence of US military personnel in Colombian bases in the framework of a bilateral defence cooperation agreement between Washington and Bogotá, the stance is not unanimous.
Peru, and Chile to a certain degree believe that Unasur as a whole must respect sovereign decisions of its member states.

However Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina have strongly criticized from different angles the presence of out of the region military personnel.

Venezuela and Ecuador openly accuse Colombia of conspiring to overthrow (with US support) their ‘Socialist’ oriented governments while Brazil and Argentina question the magnitude of the US security deployment in Colombian bases which goes well beyond coverage of the Colombian territory.

Colombia and the US have a long standing defence cooperation agreement but in the last decade under the name of “Colombia Plan” have beefed up military hardware and intelligence support helping Bogotá to regain the initiative in its combat against the FARC guerrillas and drug cartels, now on the run for the first time in years.

The agenda with Mrs. Clinton besides security and confidence building measures includes a chapter on the expanding and controversial US migration legislation which is affecting millions of Latinamericans living and working in the US.

US Secretary of State arrives in Ecuador following the Organization of American States general assembly scheduled for June 6 to June 8.


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