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South American Presidents Regret Peru No-Show At Summit

February 3, 1995

CUMANA, Venezuela (AP) _ South American leaders offered Friday to send a fact-finding delegation to a remote section of Amazon jungle where Ecuador and Peru are fighting.

The delegation would ``determine the real situation at hand,″ the presidents of Bolivia, Colombia, Panama and Venezuela said in a statement ending a two-day summit.

``There are too many different accounts of what is happening,″ along the 50-mile stretch of border, said Colombian President Ernesto Samper.

President Sixto Duran-Ballen of Ecuador attended the summit, but Peru’s Alberto Fujimori failed to show up.

Duran-Ballen called for negotiations to settle the competing land claims, which have festered for decades.

``Now more than ever, the just and peaceful solution of territorial problems is indispensable,″ Duran-Ballen said.

But he made no mention of the cease-fire reportedly worked out by negotiators hours earlier in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The agreement still must be approved by the two governments.

Duran-Ballen cut short his visit to fly home Friday to the Ecuadoran capital, Quito, immediately after a military parade.

Samper, the Colombian president, said he and other South American leaders phoned Fujimori to discuss ways of peacefully resolving the conflict.

``What usually happens in these cases is that the parties will not talk to each other. They need someone through which to communicate and that’s the role we have been playing,″ Samper said.

Peru’s ambassador to Venezuela, Eduardo Raigada, said ``reasons of state″ had prevented Fujimori from travelling to Colombia for the summit.

``We regret that (Fujimori) didn’t come. We’re very sorry,″ Venezuelan Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Burelli told reporters.

The Andean summit was called to discuss regional economic integration and commemorate the 200th birthday of South American independence leader Antonio Jose de Sucre.

But the Peru-Ecuador clash _ which dates back to a 1941 war that Ecuador lost _ has overshadowed the summit’s largely ceremonial content.

In a joint statement late Thursday, the presidents of Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia and Panama called for ``an immediate end to hostilities.″

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