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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 November 2005, 04:11 GMT
No trade deal at Americas summit
Participants of the summit
The final communiqué set out the two opposing positions
Leaders of 34 nations from across the Americas have failed to find a compromise on a regional free trade zone at their summit in Argentina.

Talks continued beyond the scheduled end of the gathering, as supporters of a US-led proposal sought to set a date to begin detailed negotiations.

The US faced opposition from five Latin American countries, which said the plan could damage their economies.

The final document contained an appendix with the two rival statements.

With most leaders - including US President George W Bush - already gone from the two-day talks, their representatives signed an annexe to the summit's final declaration with rival viewpoints on the initiative.

It's particularly not easy to host - perhaps - me
George W Bush
US president

Twenty-nine countries said they wanted to resume talks on a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in 2006.

Five others - Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay - insisted on waiting for results of the next World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong next month.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, said they were "standing like a rock" against the idea of the free trade area.

"Today the big loser was Mr Bush," he said, calling the five opponents of the plan "the five musketeers".

Riots by anti-Bush protesters marked the opening of the summit in the resort town of Mar del Plata on Friday.

Mr Bush has now gone on to Brazil.

'Reduced bloc'

The leaders were hoping to produce a summit declaration which could call for relaunching talks on the proposed FTAA - an idea raised in 1994 at the first Americas summit in Miami.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends final day of summit
Venezuela championed left-wing feeling in the absence of Cuba

But the BBC's James Coomarasamy reports that it was an awkward meeting for Mr Bush - who had to listen to his host, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, publicly blame American-backed economic policies for his country's ills.

However, Mr Bush stayed three hours longer than planned in the hope of securing a deal.

The US National Security Adviser, Steven Hadley, spoke of "real progress".

"We went from a summit which was supposed to bury FTAA to a summit in which all 34 countries actually talk in terms of enhanced trade ... recognizing there are challenges," he said.

But our correspondent says it has been an inconclusive summit marred by violence and for President Bush, it's also been an uncomfortable one.

The US leader attempted to make light of the violent protests and the tense atmosphere.

"It's not easy to host all these countries," he said. "It's particularly not easy to host - perhaps - me."

On Friday, Venezuelan President Chavez addressed a peaceful rally of up to 40,000 people at a football stadium in the resort.

He arrived at the summit declaring "The FTAA is dead and we are going to bury it here".

Police said 64 people were arrested in the violence in which more than 1,000 rioters set businesses on fire. The situation had calmed down by late on Friday evening.



SEE ALSO:
Lula hosts Bush after summit
06 Nov 05 |  Americas
Riots mar Americas summit opening
05 Nov 05 |  Americas
In pictures: Mar del Plata clashes
05 Nov 05 |  In Pictures
Americas hold indigenous summit
27 Oct 05 |  Americas
Bush signs Latin free trade pact
02 Aug 05 |  Business
Country profile: Argentina
30 Aug 05 |  Country profiles


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