Peruvian and Ecuadorian presidents meet in Lima to condemn Bolivian violence and try to salvage CAN-EU trade talks

Peru President Alan García and his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa met in Lima’s Government Palace Friday to discuss the internal crisis facing the Andean Community trade bloc and to express their support for Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is facing anti-government protests that have left at least ten people dead.

The two heads of state met Friday morning, along with María Isabel Salvador and Eduardo Egas, Ecuador’s minister and vice minister of foreign affairs, and Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Mercedes Araoz, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gonzalo Gutiérrez and Peru’s ambassador to Ecuador Álvaro Rojas.

“We concur with Correa by expressing our respect for (Bolivia’s) democratic regime, which is supported by it’s citizens” said García Friday morning. “We condemn the violence and whatever type of separatist effort that might break with the integrity of our nations.”

“We see dialogue as the only civilized way to move forward to find solutions,” he added.

“Evo Morales has the unrestricted support of Ecuador and Peru,” said Correa. “From here, we send him a strong embrace and our best wishes for this conflict to end as quickly as possible within a constituional framework and by respecting the Bolivian peoples’ will. ”

Deadly clashes in eastern Bolivia between government forces and pro-autonomy militants this week claimed eight lives and unleashed a three-way diplomatic crisis, with Bolivia and the U.S. expelling their respective ambassadors, and Venezuela giving US Ambassador Patrick Duddy 72 hours to leave the country after Chavez announced Thursday that his government had discovered a U.S. plot to kill him in a military coup.

“Three weeks ago some disagreements surfaced within the CAN,” said Ecuador’s Ambassador to Lima, Diego Rivadeneyra in comments to RPP Radio. “But, responsibly, President Correa decided to initiate a process to fortify and try to recover the group’s unity, and that is why he came (to Peru).”

In June, Foreign affairs and commerce ministers from the CAN, a South American trade bloc made up of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia, ended a three-day meeting on a sour note, with Peru accusing Bolivia of stonewalling its efforts to strengthen common intellectual property rights — a requirement that must be met for Peru to start its free trade deal with the United States.

Bolivia rejected the amendment and accused Peru of violating the Andean bloc’s internal rules by failing to get approval from the trade bloc members before going it alone and signing a bilateral trade deal with Washington.

“It is clear that Peru will not subordinate the implementation of the FTA with the United States to the opposition of one country,” said Peruvian Foriegn Minister José García Belaunde in comments to daily El Comercio.

When the norm was modified a month later, Bolivia requested that the CAN’s General Secretary, Ecuadorian Freddy Ehlers, be destituted.

We value Ecuador’s “tolerance, flexibility, fraternity and pragmatism,” said García in comments to state news agency Andina, giving thanks to Correa for Ecuador’s support of Peru’s intellectual property rights norm modification and it’s current efforts to push forward TLC negotiations with Europe.

And, because the Andean trade bloc is also having trouble negotiating a free trade deal with the European Union, Correa has proposed that a Presidential Andean Summit be held this October in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil.

Morales complained in May that Peru and Colombia, both strong U.S. allies, were moving ahead too quickly with FTA negotiations with Europe and threatened to use his influence within the Andean Community to derail the talks.

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