Although the conflict between the Colombia and Venezuela will not be on the agenda of Monday’s Mercosur summit, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said Friday that the heads of state will hold talks on the issue.
The 39th Mercosur summit, to be held in San Juan, Argentina, on August 2 and 3, will focus on the creation of a customs union between its members. The issues between Colombia and Venezuela fall within the sphere of a different regional body, UNASUR, according to the Argentine delegation.
However, Timerman said that the crisis could be addressed in “informal conversations” held on the fringes of this week’s gathering.
Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner are scheduled to meet after the event closes on Tuesday afternoon to decide how to approach the crisis between Colombia and Venezuela, the broadcaster NTN24 reported Sunday. Both heads of state are seeking to act as negotiators in the conflict and Kirchner’s husband, Nestor Kirchner, has also been linked to a mediation role.
NTN24 quoted official sources in Argentina, which suggest that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may attend the conference.
Mercosur is a regional customs union, whose permanent members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Venezuela signed an membership agreement in 2006, but is awaiting ratification by Paraguay’s Congress before it can become a full member. Colombia has been an associate member since 2005.
Tensions flared this weekend between Bogota and Caracus after Chavez deployed troops to the Colombian border, claiming that the Uribe administration had threatened his country with war.