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Argentine president presses for explanations from U.S. on espionage


11:15, July 10, 2013

BUENOS AIRES, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Argentine President Cristina Fernandez urged on Tuesday South America's Mercosur trade bloc to "strongly demand explanations" from the United States regarding recent revelations of its global spying program.

Fernandez made the call at an official event to commemorate Independence Day in Tucuman province, northwest of capital Buenos Aires, three days before leaders of Mercosur member countries meet for a summit in Montevideo, Paraguay.

Mercosur groups Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay. But the group has suspended Paraguay's membership since June 2012 after its legislature ousted the country's then president.

Fernandez said "chills ran up my spine" when she found out Argentina was among the Latin American countries spied on by the United States, as revealed a few weeks ago by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

She made a strong call for regional unity and criticized some European countries that blocked "for more than 13 hours our fellow Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, as if he were a criminal."

In fear of Snowden's presence, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain blocked the presidential plane after Morales left Moscow, where he attended a meeting of natural gas-producing nations last week and publicly expressed his willingness to consider giving Snowden political asylum.

Over the weekend, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia all offered political asylum to Snowden, who fled his country before blowing the whistle on Washington's global spying program and is said to be marooned at a Moscow airport transit area.

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