American president Barack Obama wishes to meet with his peers from UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, Saturday, April 18, on the sidelines of the fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad Tobago.
Brazilian presidential advisor on international affairs, Marco Aurélio Garcia, said Obama's proposal was sent to Chilean president and pro tempore chair of Unasur, Michelle Bachelet who transmitted the news to her Brazilian counterpart Lula Tuesday night.
Garcia said that Lula immediately accepted the proposal, which is scheduled to take place Saturday morning in Port Spain. Lula met Obama in Washington in mid March – he was the second chief of state to be received by the new American president, the first being British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Then they got together again in London for the G20 encounter.
The meeting of Unasur presidents with Obama was one of the issues discussed Wednesday between Lula and Colombia's president, Alvaro Uribe, who are participating in the World Economic Forum for Latin America taking place in Rio de Janeiro, in southeastern Brazil.
According to Garcia, Lula is planning to call Obama on Thursday to exchange ideas about the coming Summit of the Americas, which will convene all leaders from the three Americas, with the exception of Cuba.
The international affairs advisor said most probably Lula will transmit to President Obama the region's desire for a normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.
The Cuban issue has not been included in the final draft of the summit but according to Brazilian diplomatic sources, it will probably be one of the most debated points during the two-day meeting.
"We're not trying to constrain the United States, but it's not possible to accept the fact that a meeting of this caliber (summit of the Americas) without Cuba is an anomaly," pointed out Garcia.
The presidential advisor revealed that during bilateral talks between Lula and Uribe in Rio do Janeiro, the Colombian leader underlined that his country has "very fluid relations with Cuba." Colombia, which receives significant financial and military aid to combat drug barons and guerrillas, is considered Washington's staunchest ally in the hemisphere.
However Garcia added that "so far" the Port of Spain Declaration draft does not include another issue which is also expected to dominate the summit's debates: the global financial crisis, which is spreading to the real economy.
"The issue of Cuba, as well as the global crisis, could easily crop up in Trinidad Tobago in spite of the fact the conference refers to more ambitious objectives, it's impossible that two issues of such magnitude won't be addressed during the debates," said Garcia.
The Fifth Summit of the Americas meets with the purpose of "Securing Our Citizens' Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability"
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