Argentina and Brazil agree to mediate in Venezuela crisis

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Posted: May 23, 2016 7:59 PM
Argentina and Brazil agree to mediate in Venezuela crisis

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Brazil and Argentina will work together to help find a solution to Venezuela's political crisis, Brazil's acting foreign minister said Monday.

Venezuela is facing a severe economic crisis, with the world's highest inflation and shortages. Polls indicate most Venezuelans want President Nicolas Maduro out of office.

"We're on alert when it comes to Venezuela. Brazil and Argentina have an interest that includes mediation," Brazilian Foreign Minister Jose Serra said at a news conference after meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

It was Serra's first official trip since being appointed after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was suspended pending an impeachment trial.

"Venezuela is facing a critical situation," Serra said. "We want to find a path toward reconciliation."

Brazil also has been facing a political crisis as well as rising inflation and lower prices and waning demand for exports of its commodities.

Economic ties between Brazil and Argentina, the continent's two largest economies, have been hit by Brazil's worst recession in decades. The gross domestic product of Argentina's top trading partner shrank 3.8 percent last year and Argentine exports to Brazil plunged.

Both countries agreed Monday to search for mechanisms that can help secure trade deals independently rather than through the Mercosur trade bloc as they had been doing.

"This doesn't mean that other countries can't do the same," Serra said. "Sometimes you can begin something, open the possibility so others can soon follow."

Mercosur's members include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. The latter became a full member of the South American bloc in 2012 in an effort to link the region's most powerful agricultural and energy markets.