Mon, Dec 05, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Chile, Cuba asked to help lead CELAC

AFP, CARACAS

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday urged Chile and Cuba to join him in a “troika” of core nations at the forefront of a new Americas bloc that excludes the US and Canada.

“The troika has to immediately assume responsibility,” said Chavez, the driving force behind the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on the second and closing day of its inaugural meeting.

However, the fledgling bloc was missing two of its biggest members — Argentina and Brazil, whose presidents both left early on Saturday, with the latter appearing cool on the new grouping’s aims.

“I think we will have to let it [CELAC] operate for some time” before the unknowns about its operations are ironed out, Brazilian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Simoes said on Friday.

The 33 CELAC nations signed a series of documents, one of which included a clause on “the defense of democracy and constitutional order.” They also voiced support for Argentina’s claim for the disputed Falkland islands, and called on the US to end economic sanctions against Cuba, the only one-party communist regime in the Americas.

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