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Ecuador, Colombia to have talks on FTA with US

Xinhua, China

Ecuador, Colombia to have talks on FTA with US

31 December 2005

QUITO, Dec. 30 (Xinhuanet) — Ecuadoran President Alfredo Palacio will travel to Bogota in January to discuss with his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, a free trade agreement (FTA) that their countries are negotiating with the United States.

Ecuador’s chief FTA negotiator Manuel Chiriboga said on Friday that the Foreign Ministry is carrying out consultations prior to the visit.

"Our aim is that the meeting will be between Jan. 10 and Jan. 20, in return to the visit of President Uribe for the same purpose two months ago," said Chiriboga.

Colombia and Ecuador withdrew from the 19-month-old regional trade talks with Washington late last month due to differences over agriculture and intellectual property policies.

In response to a request from Ecuador, U.S. President George W. Bush has agreed to extend the trade talks with Quito till the end of January next year.

With Colombia and Ecuador balking at a group deal, Peru reacheda bilateral agreement with Washington earlier this month.

Chiriboga said Peru’s agreement with the United States does not represent a disadvantage for Ecuador and Colombia, which expect to complete the negotiations by February at the latest.

He said it is possible that the two countries will act together.