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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

South American Presidents Call for Integration

SouthAm Presidents Call for Integration

Bogota, Oct 12 (Prensa Latina) Presidents Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Alvaro Uribe (Colombia) and Rafael Correa (Ecuador) called for integration on Friday as they inaugurated the first section of an important transoceanic gas pipeline.

In a speech after opening the valve to make the fuel flow, Chavez described the work as "136 miles of integration, an artery through which the unifying blood of the continent flows." He referred to the project to achieve that all Venezuelan cities have gas over the next few years, with this work playing a main role.

He also insisted in the ideas of the Liberator Simon Bolivar that precisely this area became the mind and heart of the greater Latin American homeland.

For his part, Correa backed the Colombia-Venezuela energy integration process, which with this gas pipeline becomes the first step in a greater effort by adding Central America too, also including Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in the future.

He also urged Venezuela to return to the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), and with this aim he suggested the signing of a document with new challenges for member countries to strengthen integration and remove what he described as stagnant bureaucracies.

Meanwhile, Uribe said to be ready to start a gas interconnection with Panama and Ecuador, offering the latter the gas pipeline scheduled to be constructed between the cities of Cali and Popayan as a point of linkage.

He also requested the admission of Colombia in the Bank of the South and declared himself a "firm supporter of integration." Uribe said, though, that this does not mean a rejection of the World Bank or the Inter American Development Bank, but rather shows that his government also supports integration in the continent.

He also pleaded for Caracas returning to CAN and appreciated efforts made by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro to solve the conflict triggered by the toll collection in their common border.

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