August 20, 2019
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Ecuador president, US secretary of state discuss Venezuelan catastrophe

Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jul 20 (efe-epa).- Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno welcomed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the seaside city of Guayaquil, in a stopover on the US representative's tour of four Latin American countries; their first topic of discussion was the catastrophe in Venezuela.

Pompeo called it inconceivable that fair elections could be held under the government of Nicolas Maduro, as long as the Cubans keep protecting him.

The Ecuadorian president said the Venezuelan exodus only showed "the catastrophe, the social apocalypse" that country is going through.

Moreno particularly referred to how hard it is for Ecuador to handle the vast influx of Venezuelans, and so spoke of the need for international aid in the matter.

About the Venezuelan head of state, he said "I'll never refer to Mr. Maduro as the president because he isn't, he's someone who stopped being it. The president of Venezuela, and we have acknowledged it, is Mr. Juan Guaido," he added with reference to the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly.

In his opinion, Maduro "uses his power as an authoritarian and a dictator, but at some time he'll have to leave, and the Venezuelan people themselves will take care of that."

But for now, one subject on the agenda is to analyze the funding and technical assistance needed for a comprehensive plan to protect human rights in the context of the flood of migrants pouring in from Venezuela.

Moreno and Pompeo met at a hotel in the port city of Guayaquil, known as the economic hub of the country, and kicked off their encounter with a greeting in front of the cameras before holding their private meeting.

The Ecuadorian team in Guayaquil includes the Presidency's private secretary Juan Sebastian Roldan, Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo, and Economy and Finance Minister Richard Martinez, among others.

On hand for the United States are the US ambassador to Ecuador, Michael J. Fitzpatrick; assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Kimberly Breier; and senior advisor to the secretary of state, Michael McKinley.

As the state visit progresses, Pompeo and Moreno are set to deal with matters related to US cooperation in the fight against corruption, the extradition process and mutual legal assistance.

They will also discuss the increase in trade with the United States, attracting new investment, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the inclusion in that preferential tariff system a number of new Ecuadorian products for export.

Other matters to be considered are the stimulus of trade relations through an Investments and Trade Council, as well as US support for Ecuador with international finance organizations in order to obtain funds for additional financing.

Some in-depth study will also be applied to the cooperation extended to Ecuadorian migrants in the United States and an agreement on Social Security.

The politicians will also deal with the process of accepting academic degrees, plus a cooperation program for the surveillance of air and sea spaces under Ecuadorian jurisdiction.

The top representatives of the two countries will also discuss cooperation programs that pemit the strengthening of Ecuador's institutional capability in matters of defense, the fight against drug trafficking and international organized crime.

Further subjects on the agenda are related to cyberspace security and cooperation for the development, funding and technical assistance for the Moreno administration's emblematic social programs known as the "House for Everyone Plan" and "The Manuelas."

Ecuador is one of the stopovers on Pompeo's tour - which includes Argentina, Mexico and El Salvador - to strengthen even more the alliances within the Western Hemisphere against regional and global challenges, according to the US State Department.

Pompeo said he plans to boost cooperation in matters of security and stressed US commitment to democracy, human rights, and increasing economic opportunity for US citizens.

The visit to Ecuador is part of a new coming together of the two countries that began when Moreno assumed the presidency in May 2017. EFE-EPA sm/cd

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