The New York Times
August 95, 2008
BUENOS AIRES (Agence France-Presse) — The presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela held an impromptu summit meeting late Monday in Buenos Aires to bolster what the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, said was “the main axis of South America.”
Mr. Chávez was an unexpected addition to what was meant to be a bilateral meeting scheduled between Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
After the brief meeting, Mr. Chávez said at a news conference that he had suggested to his counterparts that a plan to build a gas pipeline across South America be revived.
“I think it is the moment to bring that back,” he said of the project, which would involve building a 5,000-mile pipeline at an estimated cost of $23 billion.
He added that the three agreed that joint state companies should be created in the oil and energy sectors.
The Venezuelan president said the three heads of state would meet again in the Brazil town of Pernambuco on Sept. 6.
Argentina’s state news agency, Telam, announced Mr. Chávez’s presence only on Monday, as Mr. da Silva was halfway through his official visit to Buenos Aires.
As Mr. Chávez was arriving, Mr. da Silva was addressing a conference of Argentine and Brazilian business leaders, telling them that the strategic alliance between their countries constituted “the backbone” of South America.
Such a partnership between the countries, run by center-left governments, should form the nucleus of a “South American Union of Nations,” he argued.
Mr. Chávez, speaking to reporters on his arrival at Buenos Aires airport, portrayed his nation, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that is governed by his hard-left administration, as having an equal place in that nucleus.
“We have revived the process of forming a tripartite alliance that is based on what we have for several years been calling the main axis of South America: Caracas-Brasilia-Buenos Aires,” he said.
Mr. Chávez added that his country “already felt part of Mercosur,” the South American trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, even though approval for Venezuela’s membership was still pending from the Brazilian and Paraguayan Parliaments.
Telam said Mrs. Kirchner and Mr. Chávez were to fly together to Bolivia on Tuesday to hold talks with that country’s president, Evo Morales, in the southern town of Tarija.