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Latin American Leaders End Rio Group Summit - 2003-05-24

Latin American leaders have closed the annual Rio Group summit in Cuzco, Peru, with the signing of a resolution promoting regional democracy and economic stability.

Leaders of the 19 member-nations signed the so-called "Cuzco Consensus" Saturday, during a closing ceremony at an historical Incan site. The document is the product of two days of talks focusing on ways to tackle economic hardship, social unrest and political instability affecting many nations in the region.

Speaking at the closing ceremony Saturday, Peru's President Alejandro Toledo also voiced support for a plan to create a regional investment program to combat poverty. The plan would earmark portions of foreign debt payments to fight poverty.

Mr. Toledo said the presidents of Brazil and Mexico will present the idea at the June meeting of leaders of the seven most industrialized nations and Russia, in a bid to win their support.

On Friday, several Latin American leaders proposed a resolution calling on the United Nations to help combat drug-related violence in Colombia and other Andean countries.

A Peruvian newspaper reported the Cuzco summit also resulted in an agreement between six South American countries to rebuild the historic Inca trail that once criss-crossed the Andean mountains.