Nicanor Duarte, President of the Republic of Paraguay, last night received the visit of Alí Rodríguez Araque, President of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and Angel Recalde, President of Petróleos Paraguayos (Petropar) at Asunción Government Palace. The meeting, which was also attended by Venezuelan Ambassador José Huerta Castillo and Paraguayan Ambassador to Venezuela Ana María Figueredo, is considered to have been a major step in accelerating the an eventual economic cooperation agreement between both countries.

During the meeting, President Duarte presented a document addressed to the Venezuelan Government in which the needs and expectations of his country were put forward, also including the items in which Paraguay envisages opportunities for bilateral complementary trade.

At a press conference held after the meeting, PDVSA’s president once again stressed the importance of the political will shown by the governments of Paraguay and of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to go forward in that direction. “A decided political will is present on both sides, and we are only awaiting the definition and evaluation of specific technical aspects to be included in the agreement, the central element of which is the leverage of the energy and food sectors”.

“I have brought a message of integration and solidarity to the government and people of Paraguay from the government of President Hugo Chávez Frías and our people, who are going through a highly participative democratic process, which extends its solidarity and cooperation to the neighboring countries of the Latin American and Caribbean motherland”, Rodríguez Araque stated.

For his part, Petropar’s president said he was pleased with the outcome of the meeting and the boost it provided at the highest level to the integration initiative and the signing of the agreement, which is expected to take place in Caracas at the end of 2004. “We welcome the willingness reiterated by PDVSA and the Venezuelan government to go forward in seeking definitive cooperation mechanisms for our peoples”, Angel Recalde affirmed.

Before the meeting with President Duarte, the presidents of PDVSA and Petropar, together with other high officials, held a working meeting at the Petropar headquarters. The talks in question were a continuation on firmer ground of the conversations which took place at the beginning of 2004, when Alí Rodríguez Araque originally visited the Paraguayan national oil company.

Petropar officials and technical experts will shortly visit Caracas to hold talks and establish definitions in the energy field as another step prior to what is expected will be President Nicanor Duarte’s visit to Venezuela before the end of the current year.