Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori said Saturday that as long as hostages being held at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima are not harmed, force will not be used to end the 47-day standoff with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
After a nearly two-hour meeting here with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Fujimori pledged to intensify efforts to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis.
In a statement, the two said they hoped a “preliminary dialogue” between the rebels and Domingo Palermo, the Peruvian government envoy in the crisis, would begin soon and would lay the groundwork for more formal discussions.
Talks so far have taken place in the form of messages carried between the rebels and Palermo by Michel Minnig, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Lima.
The two sides agreed on a commission to mediate the crisis that would include Minnig, Canada’s ambassador to Peru and Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani. Hashimoto said Saturday that Japan’s ambassador would be added as an observer. The group’s mandate is not clear. The revolutionary group is still holding 72 hostages in the ambassador’s residence and demanding the release of colleagues held in Peruvian jails.
The joint statement supported Fujimori’s refusal to consider that demand.
“In Peru we do not have guerrillas, and there is no support for terrorists’ acts,” Fujimori said. Releasing any of the jailed Tupac Amaru members “may threaten the international community.”
Reacting to the summit declarations, rebel commander Nestor Cerpa Cartolini was reported to have told journalists in Lima via two-way radio that the guerrillas will not abandon their demand.
Fujimori’s statements also aimed to ease the tension that had been building outside the Japanese ambassador’s residence in recent days, stoking Japanese concern that a military operation was in the offing.
Peruvian troops outside the residence had begun blaring music at the building and making obscene gestures at the hostage-takers - in one case prompting a volley of gunfire from the rebels inside.
Fujimori said he considered any “provocative acts” by Peruvian forces to be “not timely and inappropriate.”
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