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CELAC FMs meet in Ecuador over proposed 2015-2020 agenda

Xinhua, May 6, 2015 Adjust font size:

Foreign ministers from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) gathered in Ecuador 's capital of Quito Tuesday to discuss the bloc's proposed five- year agenda (2015-2020).

"It's clear we have to pick up the pace on the road towards prosperity ... but at the same time maintain unity among our countries (and) create a level of consensus based on permanent dialogue," Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino, whose country currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said when presiding over the meeting.

The proposed agenda was submitted by Costa Rican President Guillermo Solis, whose country occupied the bloc's presidency in 2014, and approved by his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa, during the 3rd CELAC leaders summit, held in San Juan, Costa Rica in January.

Both leaders "called on regional countries to conclude (the meeting) with a clear vision of the direction CELAC should take," Patino told participants, according to Ecuadorian state news agency Andes.

"The proposal includes a series of commitments that we can make only if we make them as a region," said Patino. "Proposed individually they would be impossible to achieve, but as part of our countries' integration, it has abundant potential."

The draft agenda centers on five key areas: reduction of extreme poverty and inequality; education, science, technology and innovation; environment and climate change; infrastructure and connectivity; and development financing.

Fighting poverty and illiteracy were top priorities, said Patino.

"Our objective is for the 'Great Country' (Latin America) to be free of illiteracy. Cuba showed us the way back in 1961," he added.

The undertaking is based on a recommendation by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) that education can serve as a tool to break the cycle of poverty. Endite