Venezuela touts agreements signed on Chavez tour
Caracas: Venezuela's government signed a series of agreements in energy, trade and agriculture during President Hugo Chavez's visits to Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia last week, officials said on Sunday.
Venezuela Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Chavez's stops in those three countries promoted economic development and "the big objectives of South America's unity”.
Maduro said that Venezuela will soon host a summit of leaders from the left-leaning ALBA bloc and that the member nations plan to discuss the creation of an "ALBA common market" to boost economic integration. Officials have yet to detail how such a common market would function.
The ALBA bloc includes nine nations ranging from Ecuador to Dominica. The summit's date is to be set soon, Maduro said.
Maduro and other Cabinet ministers discussed Chavez's trip during a televised appearance, saying the accords signed included agreements to team with Bolivia in food production, cement and textiles and to work with Uruguay to increase beef and milk production in Venezuela.
Maduro said a total of 46 agreements were signed with the three countries, the state-run Venezuelan News Agency reported.
In its energy agreements, Venezuela is supplying fuel while also working with the countries on joint oil and natural gas projects.
Chavez had planned to stop in Colombia on Saturday, but a problem with his plane in Bolivia prevented him from arriving in time for talks scheduled with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Information Minister Andres Izarra said Chavez's visit was pushed back a week.
"Everything is ready for next Saturday with Colombia," Maduro said, adding that officials are discussing a trade agreement with Colombia.