No EU-Mercosur trade agreement without Paraguay: diplomat

A German diplomat has warned that the EU will sign no trade agreements with Mercosur without Paraguay, which was suspended from the South American bloc after the country's president was ousted.

In an interview with the Paraguayan newspaper ABC published Saturday, Germany's ambassador to Paraguay Claude Robert Ellner said, "For the European Union, Paraguay continues being a full member of Mercosur."

Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay suspended Paraguay from the trade bloc after President Fernando Lugo was impeached by Congress and removed from office on June 22, 2012.

Lugo resigned but denounced the action as a "parliamentary coup," drawing support from Buenos Aires and Brasilia and new member Venezuela, which have shunned Lugo's successor Federico Franco.

Ellner and French Ambassador to Paraguay, Olivier Poupard, said the European Union was still interested in a trade association agreement with Mercosur, but has had difficulties with the group's two biggest members, Argentina and Brazil.

"Uruguay and Paraguay are very much in favor of constructive dialog in the negotiations, and let met assure you that for us Paraguay is a member of Mercosur, period. There is no doubt.

"We are not going to work with the exclusion of Paraguay. For us, it's a member," Ellner said.

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