Venezuela accepted as full member of South American bloc

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Venezuela has been accepted as a full member of Mercosur, a political and economic consortium of South American countries that has free trade agreements with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Venezuela, Iran’s principal ally in the region, will have increased influence in Mercosur, which also includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Mercosur’s members all recognize a Palestinian state.

Venezuela’s full membership, which was announced Friday, will take effect on July 31 at a Mercosur summit in Rio De Janeiro. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez called the announcement “a historical decision,” according to reports.

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