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Peruvian Chief Says Brazil, Chile and Peru Are Alternative to Chavez’s Populism

Chile together with Brazil and Peru are the alternative to the state-managed economic model and limited democratic values that Venezuela is trying to impose in the region, said Peruvian elected president Alan Garcia following his meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

"We have to be extremely clear that integration does not mean domination, which is what Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is attempting in our region" added Garcia during his one day visit to Santiago invited by the Chilean government.

However Mr. Garcia said that if Chile decides to support Venezuela for the United Nations Security Council non permanent seat, it will have no effect on bilateral relations with Peru.

"Not at all. Chile’s vote for Venezuela has nothing to do with our links with Chile," underlined the elected president.

"The real issue regarding Venezuela is not a vote but rather the need to promote a regional integration model which is a solid democratic alternative to the aggressive and interventionist policy of Hugo Chavez.

"We were (in Peru) the victims of political intrusion and I’m convinced Chavez is determined to expand his populist and state dominated model which simply does not function in the rest of the region", insisted Garcia.

"He is a very democratic ill mannered character," stressed Garcia.

Regarding more strictly bilateral issues such as the maritime limits controversy Garcia said the question was not addressed in the meeting with Ms Bachelet since "I came to Chile to talk about common issues and not differing opinions. I’m sure the diplomatic dialogue will allow us to reach a fair solution for both countries".

"The main issue during lunch with President Bachelet was trade and integration, it’s essential for Peru to establish solid trade relations", indicated Garcia adding that even when he was satisfied with the current bilateral "economic complementation agreement", he would like to begin talks for a "free trade agreement with Chile".

Mr Garcia also anticipated he would be pleased to supply energy short Chile with natural gas, "once our proven reserves increase".

"There’s no problem sending gas to Chile. However Peru has gas, but not that much gas. But if reserves increase, we can start thinking of a pipeline to supply Chile’s demand". Chile imports most of its energy and is currently exposed to shortages since Argentina which is virtually the only supplier privileges domestic demand over exports.

Peru became a world player in the gas industry in 2004 with the opening of the Camisea basin. However production is mostly consumed by the domestic market and once a major pipeline is finished by 2009, the gas will be liquefied and exported to Mexico and the US west coast.

"When our reserves reach 20 billion cubic feet (from the current 13 billion), which I’m sure will happen, we will be in a position to supply Chile, and very gladly we would do so", said Garcia. Peru has South America’s largest natural gas deposits behind Venezuela and Bolivia.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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