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    Argentina Assumes Mercosur Chairmanship Amid Venezuela’s Suspension

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    Argentina has assumed the rotating presidency of the Mercosur Latin American regional economic bloc amid Venezuela’s suspension, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra has announced.

    MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) – Venezuela was officially notified of having its membership in Mercosur suspended earlier this month.

    "I believe that the situation will be normalized, the mature countries that we are," Malcorra told journalists on Wednesday, as quoted by La Nacion, after the bloc’s meeting in Buenos Aires where the Mercosur agenda for the first half of 2017 was discussed.

    Malcorra announced earlier this month that Argentina would preside over Mercosur in the first half of next year, and that there would be no traditional presidential summit.

    Earlier this year, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay of uniting against Caracas on the Mercosur presidency transfer issue.

    Mercosur presidency for this half of 2016 was supposed to be transferred to Venezuela, after Uruguay officially ended its chairmanship in July. However, there have been concerns over growing discord in Venezuela amid a political standoff between Maduro and the opposition-dominated parliament.

    Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay eventually decided to temporarily share the presidency of the bloc.

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