LIMA // Latin American and Arab leaders agreed to form a joint investment bank during a summit in Peru at which they also discussed the increasingly bloody civil war in Syria.
At the end of the two-day meeting last night, the heads of state announced the investment bank would integrate national banks and could finance common projects between the Union of South American Nations and the Arab League.
The third summit of South American and Arab countries (ASPA) — representing some 32 countries — was intended to focus on economic and political cooperation.
But the bloodshed in Syria dominated much of the discussion, and Nabil Al Arabi, the Arab League Secretary General, urged the two blocs to work together to resolve the crisis.
"Syria is going through an asphyxiating crisis, and regrettably no initiative to find a solution has been successful so far," he said.
Syria's 18-month conflict that has claimed some 30,000 lives.
"We have to reach a resolution as quickly as possible," Mr Al Arabi added.
Ollanta Humala, the Peru president, however, did not mention Syria in his closing remarks, saying only that the two regional blocs "share the same problems and the same expectations".
The leaders' final statement last night was similarly vague: they said they had "had a general debate on the most urgent issues on the national agenda and have exchanged points of view on the political, economic, and social situation in the world," without providing more details.
The statement did specifically support "the Palestinian people's right to independence and sovereignty and to live within recognised and sovereign borders".
Originally planned for February 2011, this third ASPA summit — after the 2005 meeting in Brasilia and the 2009 one in Doha — was delayed because of the Arab Spring protests.