Page last updated at 00:41 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Venezuela step closer to Mercosur

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
The Brazilian president is visiting Venezuela this week

Brazil's Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved Venezuela's request to join the South American trade bloc Mercosur.

The committee voted by 12 to five in favour of Venezuela's application, and the proposal will now go before the Senate to gain full approval.

Paraguay's parliament must also approve Venezuela's membership before it will be allowed to join Mercosur.

Venezuela has been trying to join the bloc for three years.

The country officially teamed up with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay as part of their Mercosur trading bloc in July 2006.

But, so far, its membership has only been approved by the Uruguayan, Argentine and Venezuelan parliaments.

Correspondents say a rejection by Brazil's Foreign Relations Committee would have been severely embarrassing for the Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is visiting Venezuela this week.

Mercosur was established in March 1991.

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