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South American countries meet to discuss EU partnership deal

By Prensa Latina

San Jose (Costa Rica) : The heads of Central American governments Thursday converged on the Costa Rican capital to evolve a common stand at the upcoming partnership negotiations with the European Union (EU).

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, along with his Salvadorian counterpart Antonio Saca, is hosting the meeting to discuss a range of issues, ahead of the third round of negotiations with the EU.

The Central American bloc is expected to present proposals to the EU in the areas of political dialogue, cooperation and development of trade.

The group comprises El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The meeting will also discuss the political guidelines for El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). The three countries are still excluded from the membership of the ICC.

The first round of talks between Central American countries and the EU was held in October 2007. In late February this year, the two sides met in Brussels to discuss a partnership agreement, expected to be ready by 2009.