December 4, 2015 / 1:51 PM / in 2 years

Argentina, Brazil to watch Venezuelan vote closely: Macri

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Argentine President-elect Mauricio Macri said on Friday that Argentina and Brazil will closely follow Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Venezuela, as he appeared to back away from seeking outright Venezuelan suspension from the Mercosur trade bloc.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff greets Argentina's President-elect Mauricio Macri during a meeting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil December 4, 2015. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

“We are both observing closely what will happen there, really hoping that the tension that Venezuela is living through today will subside,” Macri told reporters after meeting with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

The election of right-of-center Macri raised the prospect of a split in the South American trade bloc over how to deal with President Nicolas Maduro’s leftist government and the crisis in Venezuela.

The day after he won the country’s general election in November, Macri said he would seek to trigger Mercosur’s democratic clause to suspend Venezuela because of accusations of rights abuses.

Left-leaning Rousseff rejected his comments days later insisting that there must first be proof of irregularities for the clause to be applied.

But at their meeting on Friday on his first trip abroad as president-elect, Macri said they shared the same view of the situation in Venezuela and had no disagreements.

Macri said, however, that he maintained his view that Mercosur’s democratic clause should be activated in the case of fraud in the elections. Venezuela’s opposition is trying to win control of the National Assembly for the first time in more than 15 years by tapping anger over a recession-hit economy.

Macri and Rousseff will assess whether the Venezuela vote was democratic when they meet at his Dec. 10 swearing in, he said.

Macri said Argentina and Brazil want to re-energize and deepen economic integration within Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, with Venezuela participating for now as an observer.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Bill Rigby

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