GUADALAJARA, Mexico – European Union (search) and Latin American nations will condemn the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers during a summit later this week, a top Mexican official said.
A draft declaration contains a paragraph that "condemns and expresses the consternation of the region with respect to the torture of human beings and prisoners of war, and there is a specific mention of the recent events in Iraq," Lourdes Dieck said Wednesday.
Dieck is Mexico's deputy secretary of economic relations and international cooperation. The declaration is to be signed at a summit by the two sides Friday.
U.S. soldiers have been accused of sexually abusing and humiliating detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison (search) in Iraq.
The delegates have struggled with whether to include a specific mention of the prison abuse. Earlier Wednesday, Brazil's ambassador to the European Union, Jose Alfredo Gaca Lima, told reporters it appeared that officials were watering down the proposal by taking out a specific reference to Abu Ghraib.
Delegates to 58 countries were also still wrangling over the details of free-trade agreements between the EU and countries belonging to the Mercosur customs union, as well as how to launch trade negotiations with Andean and Central American nations, Dieck said.
The European Union is weighing the chances of signing a free trade accord with Mercosur countries Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay by October. The agreement could help the World Trade Organization (search) end its stalemated round of trade liberalization talks.
It would cover agricultural trade — an issue the United States has banned from its stuttering drive for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, leading Latin American nations to boost trade ties with Europe.
EU officials and Mercosur trade ministers are scheduled meet Thursday, a week after each side offered concessions to keep talks going. Officials sounded optimistic a deal could be reached by October, as planned.
The EU has offered Mercosur total trade liberalization for eggs, corn, flour and other products as well as deep cuts for juices and fruits. Sensitive products, such as meat, would remain subject to quotas and possibly duties, EU spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber said.
In turn, the EU wants Mercosur to open public works projects to European bidders and also open up their banking, insurance and other service industries as well as their car, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.