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Peru, Ecuador Sign Peace Treaty

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Associated Press News Service

October 26, 1998

 

Peru, Ecuador Sign Peace Treaty

MICHAEL ASTOR

 

(Brasilia, Brazil) Peru and Ecuador ended a half-century dispute Monday by signing a peace treaty that settles ownership of a slice of Amazon jungle the neighboring countries fought two wars to control.

 

The presidents and foreign ministers of both countries signed the accord at a ceremony in Brazil's capital, where most of the peace talks took place.

 

The United States, Brazil, Argentina and Chile brokered the treaty, which delineates the border in a 48-mile section of the Andean foothills. Peru

and Ecuador both claimed the area, which was left undefined after a 1941 border war. The two countries fought over the strip of land in 1981 and 1995.

 

Monday's agreement lays ``the cement of peace,'' said Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori.

 

``Now we should start to build the building, beautiful and inhabitable,'' he said at the signing ceremony.

 

In a gesture of reconciliation, Ecuadoran President Jamil Mahuad gave Fujimori a canteen used by Ecuadoran soldiers during the 1941 war.

 

``The Amazon could have been destroyed by a war. Now we preserve it with a peace accord,'' Mahuad said.

 

In Washington, President Clinton, who had met with the Ecuadoran and Peruvian presidents at the White House on Oct. 9, offered his congratulations.

 

``This signing marks the end of the longest-running source of armed international conflict in the Western Hemisphere,'' Clinton said in a written statement.

 

Mahuad and Fujimori also signed a separate agreement dealing with cooperation on security, energy, tourism and trade.

 

The peace treaty draws the border along the heights of the Cordillera del Condor mountain range, as Peru wanted.

 

But it grants a hill within Peruvian territory to Ecuador's government. The 250-acre hill area, known as Tiwintza, is of great symbolic importance to Ecuador because its soldiers successfully defended it against Peruvian forces during the 1995 war.

 

In northern Peru on Saturday, protesters angry about losing possession of the hill set fire to government trucks and offices. Three people were trampled to death when police dispersed the crowd of 5,000 with tear gas bombs in the jungle city of Iquitos, 600 miles northeast of Lima.

 

Ecuador and Peru began peace talks in 1995. After years of slow progress, the presidents of the two nations met in August to work out the final details.

 

As a condition for brokering the talks, the United States and the other three sponsors insisted that Peru and Ecuador accept whatever outcome was reached.

 

``I think this is going to ... unleash a lot of investment in the private sector, in the linkage of pipelines, for instance,'' said U.S. envoy Luigi Einaudi. ``Ecuador has a lot of oil under the ground that it can't get out, and Peru has a pipeline that is half full.''

 

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

 

``It's been a good week for peace accords ... Israel and now this,'' said Thomas ``Mack'' McLarty, a U.S. envoy at the talks and a former aide to President Clinton, who attended the signing ceremony.

 

Copyright (c) 1998, 1997 The Associated Press All Rights Reserved

 

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