MONTEVIDEO, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Argentine President Alberto Fernandez on Tuesday pledged to "continue working together" with fellow member countries of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) to strengthen the South American trade bloc.
Fernandez made the pledge during a summit of heads of state of Mercosur, which was held in Uruguay's capital Montevideo, as Argentina took over the rotating presidency for the first half of 2023.
Fernandez received the wooden hammer that symbolizes the leadership of the bloc from his Uruguayan counterpart Luis Lacalle Pou, whom he thanked for his work during his pro tempore presidency.
"I have tasks as the new pro tempore president," said Fernandez, adding it was necessary to resolve "asymmetries" within the bloc by promoting a second Mercosur Structural Convergence Fund.
The summit took place at Mercosur's permanent headquarters in Montevideo amid disagreement within the bloc due to Uruguay's desire to sign bilateral trade agreements outside the bloc, a move that has met with resistance from other members.
With that in mind, Fernandez said he agreed with Lacalle Pou on the need to "cope with these tensions."
Along with Lacalle Pou and Fernandez, the summit gathered Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao, representing President Jair Bolsonaro, and Bolivian Foreign Affairs Minister Rogelio Mayta, whose country is in the process of joining the bloc. ■