THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
The Governments of Peru and Ecuador have reached a breakthrough agreement to begin direct talks by the end of this year to resolve their long-standing border dispute which led to armed clashes in January, 1995. At an October 29 signing ceremony in Santiago, Chile presided over by President Frei, the parties agreed on procedures for the upcoming talks, and committed themselves to seek a global and definitive solution and to continue talking until they have reached a final settlement.
In praising this important step forward, President Clinton said, "I welcome this milestone in the search for peace and commend President Fujimori and Bucaram for choosing the path of peace and dialogue over conflict and confrontation. I congratulate them for their earnest commitment to a peaceful outcome to this problem and look forward to further progress once talks begin." This agreement improves the outlook for economic development in both Ecuador and Peru, strengthens prospects for regional integration and stability, and sets the stage for further deepening of the Miami Summit process.
The United States, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, the fellow Guarantors of the Peru-Ecuador peace process, have worked closely and intensively with the parties to bring an end to the fighting, separate over 5,000 troops, create a demilitarized zone along the disputed border, and launch direct talks to resolve the dispute. President Clinton met with Peruvian President Fujimori last May and Ecuadoran President Duran-Ballen in June to urge each to begin definitive talks by the end of the year. Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, the U.S. Special Envoy to the Peru-Ecuador peace process, has worked extensively with the parties and the Guarantors to reach an agreement.
In addition, in August, Anthony Lake traveled to New York to meet with Ecuador's new President, Abdala Bucaram, to convey President Clinton's interest in moving the peace process forward quickly. Deputy National Security Advisor Nancy Soderberg, Commander-in-Chief United States Southern Command General Wesley Clark, and Ambassador Einuadi also traveled in August to Peru, Ecuador and Brazil to promote the peace process.
This dispute, which has led to frequent military clashes over the last 50 years, is one of the oldest unresolved territorial disputes in the hemisphere. Over 200 were killed in 1995 when armed forces fought in a remote part of their undemarcated common frontier and the conflict threatened to spillover to heavily populated coastal areas. The Rio Protocol of 1942 ended the 1941 war between Peru and Ecuador by defining the border, but final demarcation was never completed. It is guaranteed by Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States, which have maintained a military observer mission (MOMEP) in the disputed area. Approximately 60 U.S. military personnel are currently deployed to the area to monitor the demilitarized zone, which has seen no cease-fire violations since September 1995.
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