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Peru, Ecuador End Border Dispute

October 24, 1998

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) _ Ecuador and Peru have resolved a dispute over a 48-mile strip of jungle they have fought two wars to control, Brazil’s foreign minister said Friday.

Brazil, together with the United States, Argentina and Chile, brokered the agreement, which offers something to both feuding neighbors.

The four mediating nations stepped in after Peru and Ecuador deadlocked over three years of negotiations. The mediators required that Peru and Ecuador accept whatever solution they presented as a final decision.

Ecuadorean President Jamil Mahuad and Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori will sign the territorial agreement Monday at a ceremony in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia.

The border dispute dates to 1941 when Peru and Ecuador fought a war along the Pacific coast at a time when their frontier wasn’t fully defined.

Under the agreement, announced by Brazil’s Foreign Minister Luis Felipe Lampreia, the disputed area will be demarcated along the Cordillera de Condor mountain range, as Peru argued it should.

But a jungle-cloaked hill lying within the territory allocated to Peru will be granted to Ecuador as private property, while still remaining part of Peru. The 247-acre hill area, called Tiwintza, is a highly emotional symbol to Ecuador because its troops defended it successfully against assaults by Peruvian troops during their last border war in 1995.

The agreement also calls for contiguous national parks to be created in the disputed area.

``Like all Ecuadoreans, this decision leaves us with a bittersweet taste because we would have liked it to be more equitable,″ said Ecuador’s armed forces chief Gen. Patricio Nunez, speaking in Quito, the capital.

Ecuador’s president, seeking to stress the positive, said Tiwintza ``becomes Ecuadorean property forever.″

In Lima, the Peruvian capital, Fujimori countered criticism that he had given up too much by noting that the border will be drawn largely from what Peru wanted.

In the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru, angry residents protested the decision on Tiwintza.

``This represents a kind of surrender with another name,″ said Raul Morey, president of the Loreto Patriotic Front in Iquitos.

Peru won the first territorial war, and the two sides defined 1,088 miles of border in 1942. But with 48 miles left undefined, Ecuador declared the demarcation partially void. Since then, Peru and Ecuador fought twice more over the region, in 1981 and 1995.

Tensions flared most recently in August when Peru accused 300 Ecuadorean troops of violating its territory. When Ecuador insisted its troops were not inside Peru, Lima refused to continue internationally sponsored peace talks aimed at resolving the dispute.

Fujimori agreed later to let peacekeepers from neutral countries serve as a buffer on the troubled border.

Among those attending Monday’s signing ceremony will be U.S. special envoy Luigi Einaudi and Thomas ``Mack″ McLarty, a former aide to President Clinton, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said in Brasilia.

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