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South American Countries Form New Development Bank

Seven South American countries are launching a new development bank aimed at expanding regional trade and growth.

The Banco del Sur, or Bank of the South, is to be officially established on November third in Caracas, Venezuela. The date was agreed on by regional finance ministers meeting in Brazil Monday.

The bank, championed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is also supported by Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador. The presidents of each country must sign off on the deal before the bank can get underway.

Mr. Chavez proposed the regional bank as part of a drive to counter the conditional lending practices of international institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Officials say the bank will be open to all South American countries.

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