Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou landed Friday evening at Asunción to discuss a series of proposals to modernize Mercosur with his hosting colleague Mario Abdo Benítez.
Lacalle's trip comes less than two months before Paraguay hands over to his country the pro-tempore presidency of the regional trade bloc.
We come once again to trust that Paraguay and Uruguay are friendly countries and also countries that can complement each other perfectly, Lacalle told reporters.
He was welcomed at Asunción's airport by Foreign Minister Julio César Arriola.
We are in one of the most protectionist regions in the world, the fifth most protectionist region in the world. Surely there may be some nuances with Paraguay due to its foreign trade, which is different in its composition from ours, Lacalle also pointed out.
Lacalle explained that his country has insisted time and again that Mercosur needs to understand that it has to modernize, that it has to become more flexible.
The Uruguayan leader also explained that Abdo Benítez had invited him over some time ago. He also highlighted the very fluid relationship between the two of them both as heads of state and personally and added they have remained in touch throughout all these complex years of the pandemic.
The two leaders are to meet Saturday at the López Palace, from where they will travel to the department of Itapúa. They are to get together again Sunday privately, when the Uruguayan president will receive a distinction from Abdo and then he will attend the police and military parade on the Asunción waterfront marking the 211th anniversary of Paraguay's Independence.
Before leaving Montevideo, Lacalle Pou handed over the Presidential powers to Vice President Beatriz Argimón during a ceremony at Air Base No. 1 Gral. Cesáreo Berisso Friday afternoon. Also present was Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo, who traveled with Lacalle. Senator Graciela Bianchi will be in charge of the Vice Presidency until Lacalle's return, scheduled for May 15.