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Mujica/Mrs. Kirchner summit: River Uruguay waters are choppier than expected

Wednesday, July 28th 2010 - 06:55 UTC
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President Pepe Mujica confident on an understanding President Pepe Mujica confident on an understanding

Uruguayan president Jose Mujica will be meeting with his peer Cristina Kirchner Wednesday in Buenos Aires in what seems an attempt to unbind differences relative to the joint monitoring of the river Uruguay, particularly the Finnish pulp mill UPM/Botnia which is at the heart of the ongoing dispute between the neighbouring countries.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the Olivos presidential residence at 15:00 hours and according to Uruguayan sources President Mujica is concerned that the situation regarding the joint monitoring of the river has become an impediment to advance on other bilateral issues, which at some point were numbered in the twenties.

“What concerns Uruguay is that both sides have been unable so far to ‘encapsulate’ the UPM/Botnia issue which prevents from advancing on other areas equally or even more significant”, said Uruguayan government house sources.

During Monday’s ministerial cabinet meeting President Mujica revealed that he had been in contact with President Cristina Kirchner and they were planning to meet in Buenos Aires sometime during the week.

Although the two countries Foreign Affairs ministers, Luis Almagro and Hector Timerman have agreed that the joint monitoring issue is “not locked” they have been unable to advance on ironing out details.

Timerman has stated publicly and in his twitter that mending relations with Uruguay is “a priority” and he will do whatever necessary. Similarly both ministers have agreed that the monitoring task is a job for “science and scientists” emphasizing “no politicians, no militants, no pickets, no journalists”.

However Almagro seems concerned that Argentina in practical terms could only be interested in monitoring inside the UPM/Botnia plant, which in principle was accepted by President Mujica, but must also include all other factories, mills and locations that straddle the coast of the river Uruguay along its whole extension, from the Brazilian border to the River Plate.

“The goal remains that we find a solution for scientists to assess and analyze results in the plant”, said Mujica who nevertheless indicated that the bilateral agenda is not limited to the pulp mill.

Uruguay and Argentina have other differences referred to trade, Mercosur legislation, dredging of access canals to the River Plate, energy among others, which have lagged or remain stalled because of the rift between the previous Uruguayan administration of President Tabare Vazquez and the Kirchner couple.

Uruguay fears that once the monitoring of the plant is agreed and working Argentina could not be so compromising with the rest of the package.

The two presidents agreed in early June on a self imposed timetable of two months to have the issue solved on time for the Mercosur summit scheduled for the first days of August.

 

Categories: Politics, Argentina, Uruguay.

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