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Latin America

EU-Latin American summit closes with promises of closer ties

Leaders from the EU and Latin America have ended a two-day summit with pledges of boosting bilateral trade. While few concrete details were released, the two economic blocs expressed a clear wish for stronger ties.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera closed the weekend summit in Santiago by urging the EU and Latin America to "join forces for a better future."

"When one half of the world is living in a recession, the other half can't sustain its own economic growth," said Pinera.

"Now is the time to act to transform good intentions into results," he added.

His words echoed many of the speeches made there by leaders from the EU and CELAC, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

The representatives from the 60 countries in attendance agreed to a stronger alliance which would support economic growth and job creation with an eye on sustainable development.

Interview: Europe and Latin America: Old Friends and New Partners

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who garnered much of the spotlight in Santiago as one of the EU's top leaders, emphasized that the debt-stricken EU had much to gain from trade with Latin America, where growth remains steady.

"This is now a strategic relationship between equal partners," she said, adding that her Europeans partners must continue regaining confidence from investors.

"The most important thing for countries here is that they have the impression that we in the eurozone are overcoming the crisis together, and not leaving some countries hanging."

Both blocs called for a speedy conclusion of a free trade pact. Negotiations have so far stumbled over differences on agriculture - notably Europe's subsidies to its farmers, which undercut Latin America's products.

The EU and CELAC are scheduled to meet again in Brussels in 2015.

The CELAC delegations are scheduled to hold their own summit in Chile on Monday, during which Cuba will take over the body's chairmanship as Chile's term concludes.

kms/lw (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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