UPDATE 3-Brazil truckers strike drags on as gov't talks stall

miércoles 25 de febrero de 2015 18:20 GYT

(Adds statements from officials in talks)

By Marcelo Teixeira and Reese Ewing

SAO PAULO Feb 25 (Reuters) - Truckers who blocked roads in 10 Brazilian states in an eighth day of protests struggled to find a solution in talks with the government on Wednesday to end a strike that has disrupted food and fuel supplies.

Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu said after a meeting with truckers in Brasilia on Wednesday afternoon that she was confident both sides would reach agreement.

"(The protesters) are flexible and want to resolve the problem," Abreu said, but she added the government would not give in to on the truckers' main demands: lower diesel prices and fixed freight rates.

Truckers and transport companies failed to reach an agreement over freight rates by the end of the government-led talks Wednesday evening, said Blairo Maggi, a prominent senator from the leading soy state, Mato Grosso, where the protests began on Feb. 18.

But government officials may resume talks with the truckers on Thursday.

"The problem is the trucker's wallet: if (the government) doesn't lower the price of diesel, then raise freight rates," Diumar Bueno, president of the independent truckers association, who participated in the meetings.

The widespread protests come as President Dilma Rousseff's popularity has slumped to an all-time low because of an economic downturn and a massive corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.   Continuación...