Uruguay Hoping It Will Reach Deal with Brazil on Itaipu at Mercosur’s Summit

Lugo meets Lula Mercosur's presidential summit this week in Paraguay will convene eight South American leaders, announced Paraguayan Foreign Affairs minister Hector Lacognata during a press conference Saturday in Asuncion.

Besides the four presidents from the full members, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and host Paraguay, four other leaders from Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Venezuela will be participating, said Lacognata.

"We have the confirmation from Evo Morales (Bolivia); Michelle Bachelet (Chile), Rafael Correa, (Ecuador) and Hugo Chavez (Venezuela)".

Two presidents who will not be participating are Alan Garcí­a from Peru and Alvaro Uribe from Colombia.

However the Foreign Affairs minister from Mexico, Patricia Espinosa and representatives from multilateral organizations will be arriving for the summit.

On Thursday 23, the summit begins with the meeting of Foreign Affairs ministers, which can be anticipated will address the Honduras political crisis.

On Friday the presidents will meet to address the pre-arranged agenda and sign a declaration, said Lacognata.

At the coming ceremony the rotating six months chair will be officially handed by Paraguay to Uruguay for the rest of the year.

Normally Mercosur summits take place at the end of the six months or at the latest in the first week of the seventh month. However on this occasion the event was delayed according to diplomatic sources because of other international engagements, particularly on the side of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The delay has also been useful to give some more time to the Paraguay-Brazil controversy about power prices and surplus energy generated at the bi-national hydroelectric complex of Itaipu, the largest in the Americas.

Paraguay has been demanding better prices for its surplus power which by contract (from the seventies when the dam was built) must be sold to the other partner (in this case Brazil).

The administration of President Fernando Lugo has been demanding improved prices for power or to freely dispose of the surplus to be traded in the regional spot market.

Brazil is reluctant to accept these conditions and insists both sides must abide by the contract which can only be reviewed in the future.

Former bishop Lugo was elected by a catch-all coalition based on promises to obtain a better deal from Brazil to invest in social development. So far he has been unable to honor his promises.

Presidents Lula and Lugo are scheduled to hold a bi-lateral meeting to address the issue following the Mercosur summit.

Mercopress

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