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October 1, 1998

Venezuelan ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Francisco Paparoni, who became chairman of the Permanent Council today, said he planned to seek consensus on policy decisions taken by the hemispheric organization.

Accepting the gavel from out-going chairman, Uruguay's ambassador, Antonio Mercader, Mr. Paparoni had praise for his predecessor as he expressed confidence that the member countries' delegations would provide him the support needed to effectively perform his duties over the next three months.

The vice-chairmanship, meanwhile, was assumed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines ambassador, Kingsley Layne, who took over from the St. Kitts and Nevis ambassador, Dr. Osbert W. Liburd.

The new Council chairman is a political science and economics graduate who has represented his country in Canada, Peru, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States. He has also served as sectorial director general for international policy in the Venezuelan foreign ministry.

During the chairmanship change-over, which was witnessed by Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria, Assistant Secretary General Christopher R. Thomas and a number of ambassadors, the out-going chairman reviewed his three-month stint, noting that the period July to September "has been a very active one which we have used very well, thanks to the collaboration of all the member state representatives."

Ambassador Mercader chaired his last Permanent Council session yesterday, when the members paid tribute and expressed appreciation and admiration for "his brilliant work leading the OAS' political body." The ambassadors of Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Panama and St. Kitts and Nevis also praised Ambassador Mercader's leadership.

The Uruguayan diplomat will continue to chair the special joint working group of the Permanent Council and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development seeking to strengthen and modernize the OAS.

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