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Latin American Leaders Urge US to Mobilize Assistance for Argentina


Several Latin American leaders are calling on President Bush to mobilize international financial assistance for Argentina as it struggles to overcome its economic crisis.

Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso says Argentina needs international financial support, and cannot be left to deal with its economic crisis alone.

Mr. Cardoso, in an interview published Thursday by the O Globo newspaper, said the world is now so economically interdependent that it would be "hypocritical" to think that Argentina can solve its problems by itself.

The Brazilian leader said he has written President Bush a letter urging him to mobilize international financial assistance for Argentina.

A similar appeal came from Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. In a letter to President Bush published Thursday by the Argentine newspaper, La Nacion, Mr. Lagos said a shadow has been cast over Latin America because of the Argentine crisis. The Chilean leader said it would be tragic for those who believe in globalization and the benefits of economic integration if Argentina were left to deal with what he described as "unsustainable financial pressure."

Mexican President Vicente Fox also has joined the leaders of Brazil and Chile in signaling his concern to Washington.

Argentina, which is in the midst of a deep recession, has seen its credit rating drop precipitously in recent weeks because of mounting concerns it will be unable to continue making payments on its massive public debt. The continuing uncertainty over Argentina's economic future by international financial markets has spilled over to its neighbors causing the currencies of Brazil and Chile to drop.

Brazil last Friday secured a new $15 billion line of credit from the International Monetary Fund in what officials described as a "precautionary measure." Officials hope the IMF money will help shore up the value of Brazil's currency against speculation as the Argentine economic crisis continues.

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