Africa-South America Summit approves final declaration

Monday, September 28, 2009

Venezuela - The second Africa-South America (ASA) Summit ended Sunday as Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez announced that the final declaration was approved.

"The Margarita Declaration and Action Plan have been approved," he told the plenary session in Porlamar, Margarita Island of Venezuela.

Some 20 leaders from African and South American countries attended the summit to discuss issues concerning education, health, energy and the global economic crisis.

The declaration covers issues concerning climate change and building alternative financial mechanisms to counter the current economic crisis and stave off possible future crises.

The declaration also urges signatories to seek social justice, social inclusion, equality and mutual respect, and to fight human trafficking and transnational crimes.

"The key thing is to assume the responsibility and maintain the willingness for independent decision-making," Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi told the closing session of the meeting.

Food security was a major topic at the summit, as Venezuela signed an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization to help build irrigation infrastructure, donate certified seeds and train staff in African nations, and provide grants for African students in Venezuela.

On the sidelines of the summit, Venezuela signed agreements with Sierra Leone to form a joint mining company. It also signed an oil agreement with South Africa.

Earlier on Sunday, leaders publicly demanded the end of economic blockades on Cuba and Zimbabwe.

President of Zambia Rupiah Banda tabled a motion demanding an end to sanctions which affect those nations.

Banda's speech followed an impassioned one backing the same policy earlier in the plenary by host President Chavez, who said that his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe had become the target of an international campaign.

"I wish to give our moral, spiritual and political support to Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe. They seek to make Mugabe pay for being anti-colonialist," Chavez said.

Mugabe said that Africa's industrial development had "been difficult because of a reliance on the very powers that colonized us."

Also on Sunday, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa urged African and South American countries to work together and redress the asymmetry in economic development.

Meanwhile, President of Comoros Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi proposed that the two continents work together in developing education and building agricultural infrastructure.

The first ASA Summit was held in Abuja, Nigeria in November 2006, which ended with the "Abuja Declaration" and "Plan of Action" aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two regions.

The next ASA Summit will be held in Libya in September 2010.