BRASILIA – Foreign ministers of the Mercosur trade bloc gathered on Thursday ahead of a summit of the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Brazil’s Mauro Vieira hosted counterparts Eladio Loizaga of Paraguay, Rodolfo Nin Novoa of Uruguay and Delcy Rodriguez of Venezuela.
With Foreign Minister Hector Timerman still laid up after undergoing surgery this week, Argentina dispatched senior ministry official Carlos Bianco to Brasilia for Thursday’s discussions.
Representatives of Bolivia – now in the process of joining Mercosur – and of associate members Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Suriname and Guyana are expected to join the session later Thursday.
The agenda for the talks includes negotiations with the European Union on a trade agreement and the prospective accession of Bolivia.
Uruguay has signaled that it plans to stress the need for measures to ensure the free movement of goods within the bloc, which would require lifting the tariff barriers maintained by Mercosur’s largest members: Brazil and Argentina.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is preparing to welcome colleagues Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, Horacio Cartes of Paraguay, Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay and Nicolas Maduro for Friday’s summit.
The presidents of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and Guyana, David Granger, also plan to be present, while Chile is to be represented by Interior Minister Jorge Burgos.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is sending Vice President Jorge Glas to the meeting in Brasilia.