February 1, 1995 in Nation/World

Ecuador Seeks Truce In Dispute With Peru

Washington Post

The border dispute between Ecuador and Peru moved away from armed conflict Tuesday, as both sides showed restraint in the contested zone and began a shaky attempt at a diplomatic solution.

Ecuador unilaterally declared a cease-fire, effective at noon. Eight tense hours later, Peru gave mixed signals on whether it agreed to halt the fighting. A definitive announcement was awaited in Rio de Janeiro, where four countries overseeing the terms of a 1942 border settlement were meeting to address the crisis.

The maneuvering came on the first quiet day in the Cordillera del Condor, a remote area claimed by both countries, since fighting first was reported last Thursday.

Even as these steps were taken, neither side appeared ready to concede any ground, nor was it clear when Peru would put its cease-fire in effect. Peru’s foreign minister alluded to calling back warships, including submarines, sent north toward Ecuador.

Officials here immediately rejected Peru’s reported call for a buffer zone in the disputed area - a request that would require Ecuador to retreat from its current position.

“I am not going to cede 1 centimeter,” Ecuadoran President Sixto Duran Ballen said during a nationally televised address Tuesday night. “I want to reiterate the peaceful will of our country. But my government also has an obligation to its people. We are not going to retreat from where we are.”

The uncertainty of the situation was reflected in a statement issued Tuesday night by the so-called guarantor countries - Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States - who jointly enforce the 1942 Protocol of Rio de Janeiro that set the border between Peru and Ecuador. The four countries expressed “profound preoccupation” over the situation and urged Ecuador and Peru to move quickly toward conciliation.

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