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China will provide a $1 billion loan for Latin American and Caribbean countries to have access to its COVID-19 vaccine, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told top regional diplomats in a meeting, according to the Mexican government.

In a virtual gathering, Wang told his Latin American counterparts a vaccine against coronavirus developed by his country would have universal access, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement late Wednesday. Wang also presented a list of Chinese projects to fight the disease in the region, according to the statement.

The announcement comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China, which is increasingly competing for influence in a region historically linked to American foreign policy. Latin America is currently the region hardest hit by the coronavirus, with Brazil, Mexico and Peru among the world’s top 10 countries by total COVID-related deaths.

Top diplomats from Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay participated in the meeting, in addition to Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and China’s Wang, according to the statement.

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