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Mercosur welcomes Venezuela, focuses on China

(Xinhua)

13:12, July 01, 2012

MENDOZA, Argentina, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The 43rd summit of Mercosur ended Friday in the western Argentine city of Mendoza after member nations agreed to accept Venezuela as a new member of the bloc and to promote cooperation with China in economic and trade.

The summit also suspended Paraguay's membership because the country's parliament impeached and ousted president Fernando Lugo following bloody clashes between police and landless farmers that left 17 people dead.

The current three member countries, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, announced that Venezuela will officially become the fifth full member of the region's largest trade organization at a special summit which will be held in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro on July 31.

Venezuela had been provisionally admitted into Mercosur in 2006,

but its entry had not been formalized because Paraguay's parliament refused to ratify it.

The suspension of Paraguay's membership paved the way for Venezuela to enter the bloc.

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez said Venezuela's entry into the bloc could help promote regional economic integration and strengthen resistance against another international financial crisis.

Mercosur stressed the importance to promote relations with China and other Asian economies, as Chinese Ambassador to Argentina Yin Hengmin was invited to take part in the summit on behalf of the Chinese government. This is the first time that China was invited to attend a Mercosur summit.

In a joint statement, China and Mercosur vowed to continue to augment economic cooperation and trade so as to lift bilateral trade to 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2016.

On Paraguay, the summit decided to keep its membership on hold, but not to slap sanctions on the landlocked country so as to avoid possible damage to the Paraguayan people.

The bloc will consider restoring its membership after the country holds presidential elections next April.

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