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Americas bloc excluding US and Canada is proposed

23 February 2010 05:38 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Latin American and Caribbean nations have agreed to set up a new regional body without the US and Canada, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said.

The new bloc would be an alternative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), the main forum for regional affairs in the past 50 years.

Mexico is hosting a regional summit in the beach resort of Cancun.

The OAS has been dogged by rifts between some Latin American members and the US over economic policy and trade.

Its has also been criticised as promoting US interests over those of other members.

The new grouping "must as a priority push for regional integration... and promote the regional agenda in global meetings," Mr Calderon told the summit, which includes leaders and representatives from 32 countries.

The proposed new grouping was one of the main issues on the agenda of the two-day summit, ending on Tuesday.

Cuban President Raul Castro was quick to applaud Mr Calderon's announcement as a historic move toward "the constitution of a purely Latin American and Caribbean regional organisation".

Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 because of its socialist political system. In 2009, the OAS voted to lift Cuba's suspension but the country has declined to rejoin.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier expressed his support for the proposal, citing it as a move away from US "colonising" of the region.

A US State Department official said he did not see the new body as replacing the OAS.

The summit has also reportedly backed Argentina's claim over the British-owned Falklands. - BBC

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