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Rio summit ushers in new era of trade
World leaders sign declaration of cooperation

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Europe and Latin America are expected to launch a new era of economic and political cooperation by signing Tuesday a declaration of their intention to liberalize trade between the continents and work for peace and democracy.

In an opening address Monday to the 48-nation summit at Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told the EU, Latin American and Caribbean leaders they were "taking a major step forward.""We are entering a new era," said the chancellor, current president of the EU.

The Rio summit, he said, will bring a new impetus to trade relations between Latin America and Europe as well as to the global trade talks that are to begin this autumn under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.

For Latin American and the Caribbean nations, however, free trade and other economic benefits resulting from closer ties with Europe must be based on closer political cooperation among themselves, Schroeder said.

In that sense, he said the EU was a model.

"War has become unthinkable between the member states of the European Union," the chancellor said.

Europe's political integration made it possible for Europeans to stand united in opposing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, he said.

"I assure you, Europe has learned from Kosovo," he told fellow leaders.

Schroeder appealed for efforts to establish new rules for capital flows. Speculative money flows, he said, cannot be allowed to destabilize entire societies and lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.

President Fernando H. Cardoso of Brazil, the summit host, called a decision to launch negotiations toward a Europe-Latin America free trade zone "an ambitious task."

The new zone would link the EU with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile. A meeting was set for November to work out the details of trade negotiations, which probably won't begin before July 2001.