translated from Spanish: Fernández and Lacalle Pou agreed to hold “direct dialogue” on the progress of Mercosur

The sources said that the two presidents, Alberto Fernandez and Luis Lacalle Pou, dined at Olivos with First Lady Fabiola Yañez and Foreign Minister Felipe Solá, while the Uruguayan arrived with that country’s foreign minister, Francisco Bustillo. At the meeting, the presidents agreed to maintain “direct dialogue with regard to any problem that may arise” within mercosur. And, in this regard, Fernandez expressed to Lacalle the “understanding” on the part of Argentina of Uruguay’s needs.According to official sources, the Argentine president promised his Uruguayan counterpart to “seek a formula within the institutional framework of the regional organization that is useful to that demand,” after Uruguay raised in recent months the need to negotiate trade agreements outside the regional bloc. In the dialogue, Lacalle Pou confirmed his country’s support for Argentina’s aspirations to assume the pro-tempore presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) in 2022, in the same sense as Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico and Venezuela, among other countries in the region. The presidents also agreed to work together to obtain financing from the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America for the construction of a bridge linking the towns of Monte Caseros (Corrientes-Argentina) and Bella Unión (Artigas-Uruguay). Due to the latter’s short distance from Barra do Quarai (Brazil), this route would greatly facilitate inter-Mercosur trade, the official sources said. During the dinner, Fernández also thanked Uruguay’s “permanent support” in all international forums for the Argentine position on sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.On his first trip as president of Uruguay, Lacalle Pou arrived yesterday morning in the country and went to the embassy of his country in Buenos Aires, to return to Montevideo after dinner with Fernandez.Prior to the meeting, cabinet chief Santiago Cafiero had said that “a common work is needed among all the partners” of Mercosur — a bloc composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay as full members — and that “it must have a powerful voice.” The Argentine Government’s position with respect to Mercosur is to continue working with our partners,” Cafiero said, because “when Mercosur did well, it also did well for its member countries and the region.” Fernandez and Lacalle Pou had already held a meeting on 19 November at the Presidential Ranch La Anchorena, located near Colonia del Sacramento, on the neighboring Uruguayan shore. This activity had been the first meeting that the two presidents had held personally since they took office as heads of state.Last March, on the occasion of commemorating the 30th anniversary of the founding of Mercosur, both presidents staged a counterpoint around the possibility of the states establishing negotiations on free trade agreements outside the regional bloc.” Obviously Mercosur weighs heavily, obviously its production weighs heavily on the international arena, what it should not and cannot be is that it is a burden. We are not willing for it to be a corset from which our country cannot move,” the Uruguayan head of state said at the time. In this regard, Alberto Fernández replied: “We do not want to be anyone’s ballast, if we are a ballast, let them take another boat, but we are nobody’s ballast. For me it is an honor to be part of Mercosur.”

Original source in Spanish

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