Reuters International

By Alonso Soto

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The founding members of Mercosur will give Venezuela until Dec. 1 to meet its membership requirements or be suspended, Brazil's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, in the latest twist of a row that has exposed the region's ideological divisions.

The ultimatum will further isolate the socialist-led nation, which has been at the centre of a fight over the rotating presidency of Mercosur, which has turned to the right after years dominated by leftist governments.

Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay also decided in a deal first reported by Reuters to share the presidency of the group in a temporary solution to the group's currently being without a head.

All Mercosur members but Uruguay blocked Venezuela from assuming the rotating presidency in June, accusing the OPEC nation of failing to incorporate a joint economic accord and a commitment to protect human rights.

The bickering over leadership has stalled Mercosur's everyday operations and trade negotiations with other countries and blocs, ultimately forcing Uruguay to accept a tougher stance against Venezuela, a Brazilian official familiar with the matter said.

Facing a food shortages and political turmoil, Venezuelan leftist President Nicolas Maduro has come under greater international pressure to cede to opposition calls for a recall vote on his leadership this year.

(Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Leslie Adler)


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