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LATIN AMERICA | 28-08-2020 00:27

Countries in Prosur bloc mull reopening of borders

Foreign ministers from the nine-country Prosur bloc had formed a commission that will have 10 days to present measures on reopening borders.

Foreign ministers from nine South American countries held talks Thursday to examine reopening borders in the region, closed for months over the coronavirus pandemic, Chile's Foreign Minister Andres Allamand said.

He said ministers from the nine-country Prosur bloc had formed a commission that will have 10 days to present measures on reopening borders.

"Chile will propose that this opening will require a passport and a negative swab test for Covid-19, but it is very important that the countries have coordinated and established concrete mechanisms," Allamand told reporters after the video-conference meeting.

The Forum for the Progress and Development of South America, or Prosur, was created in 2019 to promote economic integration and political coordination in the region. 

Latin America has been severely affected by the virus, with more than 260,000 deaths and almost seven million infections, forcing most countries to shut their land borders.

"The evolution of the pandemic is changing. There are countries that are making advances, while there are others experiencing setbacks," said Allamand, whose country holds the bloc's rotating presidency.

"We will have to be particularly attentive that the reopening under no circumstances generates negative effects," he added.

With international air travel restricted in most of the region, countries such as Brazil and Chile maintain skeleton international services.

The commission will be made up of officials from the foreign and interior ministries of the Prosur countries.

It will also monitor progress on various coronavirus vaccines currently being developed and the possibility of purchasing them as a bloc once they become available.

Prosur is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Foreign Minister Felipe Solá was among those who joined the talks, though quotes emerging from his afterwards referenced progress on coronavirus vaccines, rather than the potential re-opening of borders. All commercial international air travel, with limited exceptions, is effectively banned in Argentina until September 1.

– TIMES/AFP

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