Panama is ready to welcome the leaders of Latin America, Spain and Portugal for the 23rd Ibero-American Summit, where the member governments are set to embrace a switch from an annual to a biennial schedule.

Representatives from the 22 states that make up the Ibero-American community were working Thursday to finalize the documents to be approved by the summiteers.

The main business of the gathering, which begins Friday afternoon, is adapting the summit mechanism to the radical changes of 21st-century geopolitics.

The realities of Latin America, Spain and Portugal are very different from what they were in 1991, when the first Ibero-American Summit took place in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The focus then was on supporting incipient democracies and promoting development.

But Latin America's "lost decade" was followed by a period of vigorous growth that lifted 70 million people out of poverty and swelled the ranks of the middle class by 50 million.

Now it is Spain and Portugal that find themselves striving to emerge from economic crisis, in part by boosting exports to Latin America.

The heads of state and government are expected to endorse the recommendations of a group headed by former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, which calls for the summits to be held biennially followed the 2014 conference in Mexico.

Lagos and his team also urge a tighter focus on cooperation projects.

This year's summit will be the first one not attended by Spain's King Juan Carlos, who recently underwent hip surgery.

While Madrid will be officially represented at the summit by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Crown Prince Felipe is to take part in some events, as well as in a business forum that begins here Thursday.

On Friday, executives from Ibero-America's major media outlets will take part in a Communication Forum organized by the Spanish government and by Mexico-based media conglomerate Televisa. EFE