(Puerto Iguazu, Argentina) Leaders of four South American countries reached an agreement to negotiate prices of Bolivian gas, and also that gas supplies will keep flowing after the Bolivian reclamation of its energy industry.
After a four-hour emergency summit in this Argentine tourist city the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia came up with a joint statement that pledged to avoid a regional dispute sparked by Bolivia's nationalization decision.
"In terms of price, the document is absolutely clear," said Argentine president Nestor Kirchner. "It says ... that bilateral meetings will be the means to resolve price discussion between countries."
Most importnatly for Evo Morales, Bolivia's new president, is that the document provides unequivocable support for Bolivia's right to nationalize its natural resources. Foreign companies have six months to sign new contracts with YPFB, the state energy company, giving the state 82% of production profits.
Foreign companies failing to reach agreements face the risk of expulsuion from Bolivia.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that his own country's nationalization efforts helped pave the way for Bolivia.
"We have recovered the control of our natural resources and our mineral riches in a very long and difficult process that even cost us an attempted coup," said Chavez. "I can tell you that the process in Bolivia will in no way be traumatic."
Left: Bolivian troops are now guarding oil and gas facilities
One of the chief goals of the summit - maintaining gas supplies to Bolivia's neighbors - was also achieved.
"The important thing is that gas supplies for the countries needing them have been guaranteed and that prices will be discussed in the most democratic form possible between all parties involved," said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva after the meeting.
Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras said after the meeting that it will seek international arbitration if it cannot reach a deal with Bolivia on the price of natural gas imports within 45 days.
"The contract between Petrobras and YPFB establishes the mechanisms that should govern the negotiation and we are going to follow these procedures," said Petrobras President Jose Sergio Gabrielli.
Petrobras warned earlier in the week that it would halt all investment in Bolivia after the nationalization announcement by Morales on May Day.