Hopes Fade for Face-To-Face Fujimori-Duran-Ballen Talks
CUMANA, Venezuela (AP) _ With chances for a meeting with his Peruvian counterpart dwindling, the Ecuadorean president said Thursday he may leave a South American summit early to direct his country’s defense against Peru.
``I should be there″ if peace talks in Rio de Janeiro stall and Peruvian troops resume attacks, President Sixto Duran-Ballen said.
Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori didn’t show at the summit Thursday, but he may come Friday, Venezuelan Information Minister Guillermo Alvarez told reporters gathered for an Andean presidential summit.
Troops from Ecuador and Peru have been battling over a mountainous, jungle-covered border region between their countries for a week. Dozens have been reported killed in the skirmishes, and each side has accused the other of invading its territory.
Presidents Ernesto Samper of Colombia, Ernesto Perez Balladares of Panama and Gonzalo Sanchez of Bolivia arrived in Cumana on Thursday.
They were meeting to discuss regional economic integration and commemorate the 200th birthday of South American independence leader Antonio Jose de Sucre.
But the Peru-Ecuador clash has overshadowed the largely ceremonial content of the summit.
Ecuador is the victim of Peruvian aggression, Duran-Ballen said at a news conference Thursday. ``We have not made a single warlike action,″ other than to defend military posts, he said.
He said he would ask his fellow Andean presidents to endorse a call for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution of the border conflict, dating back to a 1941 war that Ecuador lost and the 1942 accord that was supposed to bring peace.
The core of the dispute, Duran-Ballen said, is that the area was barely traveled, let alone well-mapped, five decades ago. ``Neither Ecuador nor Peru nor the (1942 treaty) guarantor countries understood the geographic reality of the zone,″ he said.
Duran-Ballen said he had wanted to meet with Fujimori. Ecuador’s only requirement, he said, is that Peru’s troops first halt their attacks.