GUATEMALA CITY – Laos and Venezuela presented their candidatures to co-chair the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), the only body exclusively meant to enhance dialogue and cooperation between countries of the two regions.
Their candidatures – to replace current co-chairs Guatemala and South Korea, whose term ends in 2017 – were one of the few outcomes of the 17th FEALAC meet of the body’s senior officials that ended Friday in Guatemala City, although they still need to be approved by member states.
While Laos’ bid to chair the organization was met with palpable approval from East Asian countries, Venezuela’s proposal did not seem to be met by enthusiasm from the Latin American states, who said they would consult with their governments.
The meeting also saw members agree that the next FEALAC foreign ministers’ encounter would take place on May 25 in South Korea, while they congratulated Colombia for the recently-concluded peace talks with guerrilla group FARC.
Meanwhile, Guatemala, which currently co-chairs the organization with South Korea, proposed the adoption of Spanish as the official language as well as English. However, the initiative was met with resistance from the Asian members, meaning the debate is set to continue.
According to their concluding declaration, members also agreed to study a troika system and hold parallel meetings on the sidelines of the UN Assembly, as well as setting up a fund to administer FEALAC resources. The group mulled the possibility of holding a heads of state summit to mark 20 years of the bloc.
FEALAC, founded in 1999, is aimed at cementing political, diplomatic and economic relations between member states, and establishing more effective and dynamic links, with the focus of this year’s meeting on sustainable development.
The body’s Latin American members are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Member countries from the East Asian region include Australia, Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.