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Andean Summit Leaders Agree on Trade Talks with EU


Several South American presidents meeting in Tarija, Bolivia, have agreed to start trade talks with the European Union.

However, Thursday's summit of the Community of Andean Nations exposed differences among the leaders of the four-nation CAN. The Peruvian and Colombian presidents, Alan Garcia and Alvaro Uribe, favor free trade; while the left-leaning Ecuadorian and Bolivian leaders, Rafael Correa and Evo Morales, prefer state controls.

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, who also supports free trade, attended the summit. Chile is returning to the CAN as an associate member after leaving the group 30 years ago.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pulled his country out of the group last year to protest a free-trade agreement signed by Peru and Colombia with the United States.

Trade last year between the EU and Andean bloc totaled more than $15 billion.

CAN also includes associate members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as observer countries Mexico and Panama.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.