Chavez proposes South-South cooperation at AU summit

Banjul- The Gambia (PANA) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Saturday proposed four areas of cooperation among the peoples of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in the spirit of South- South cooperation.
In an extemporaneous speech to African leaders attending the 7th AU summit in Banjul, the Gambia, Chavez suggested the establishment of a joint commission to set up four projects, which he listed as "Petrosouth, Telesouth, Bank of the South and University for the South".
He said through Petrosouth, the leaders would harness the power of oil, which he called a powerful instrument for social development, to develop their peoples.
"It was used by the colonialists (to oppress us).
We are now going to use it to liberate our peoples," the President said, adding that 15 percent of the world's oil reserves is in Africa.
He said Telesouth would involve the establishment of a TV station for the peoples, while the Bank of the South will be a development bank to assist the poor from the three areas.
Chavez said the University of the South would help train the youths of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in key areas.
Saying he has come to strengthen the relationship between Africa and Latin America, the Venezuelan leader explained that the people of Latin America were a mixture of Africans and American Indians.
He said Africa, with vast human and material resources, was not poor but rather suffering from years of exploitation by the colonialists.
He accused oil companies in Africa of exploiting their host countries by evading taxes, recommending the example of his country, which collects 30 per cent tax from oil companies.
Chavez also expressed solidarity with Iran, in its ongoing face- off with the West over its nuclear programme, and with the Palestinian people "who are today being attacked".
"Long live Africa, Long live Arabia and long live Iran in freedom and equality," Chavez said, stealing a glance at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is also attending the summit.
Ahmadinejad's speech to the summit was interrupted by a technical hitch after a few minutes, forcing the meeting to adjourn for two hours.
Before the interruption, the Iranian leader condemned the migration of European Jews to "displace the Palestinian people".
Chavez and Ahmadinejad were invited to the summit as Observers.

01 july 2006 15:52:00




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