Thursday, May 11, 2006

Morales urges nations to forgo U.S. trade pact

Thursday, May 11, 2006; Posted: 8:17 a.m. EDT (12:17 GMT)

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday urged Colombia, Peru and Ecuador not to ratify trade deals with the United States, but to concentrate on keeping alive the regional Andean Community instead.
He urged the three countries "to stop any negotiations with the United States regarding a free trade agreement, because these treaties are destroying the Andean Community."
Morales, speaking to reporters at a summit of European Union and Latin American countries, accused the three of "abandoning the basic principles" of the grouping, some members of which also are seeking to start free trade talks with the 25-nation EU.
"The basic foundation of the Andean Community was to strengthen the regional economy," Morales said.
He said he also asked Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez "not to withdraw" from the trade grouping.
Morales did not say whether he favored negotiations on a free trade agreement with the EU.

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