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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 9, 1998


Ecuador-Peru Border Dispute

President Clinton met with Presidents Fujimori of Peru and Mahuad of Ecuador today at the White House to continue United States' efforts to mediate a diplomatic settlement to a long and complex border dispute that has given rise to tension between the two countries for much of this century. The Presidents of Peru and Ecuador have conducted a series of negotiations in recent weeks. They requested the meeting with President Clinton, with the encouragement of President Cardoso of Brazil, to seek help in concluding an agreement.

President Clinton has sought on a number of occasions to advance the peace process. He has met three times with President Fujimori on the issue since 1996, as he has with former Ecuadorian Presidents Duran Ballen and Alarcon, and most recently with newly elected President Mahuad just prior to his inauguration in July 1998. President Clinton has also consulted directly with President Frei of Chile, President Menem of Argentina and President Cardoso of Brazil. This week he discussed the issue with President Menem, and spoke twice by telephone with President Cardoso on the subject.

Since 1995, the United States has had a special negotiator, Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, assigned to work with the parties and other Guarantors to find a settlement. In August 1996 President Clinton sent a personal emissary to the region, Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Nancy Soderberg, to stimulate negotiations. In August 1996, President Clinton also asked Tony Lake to travel to New York to see then-President Bucaram of Ecuador on the issue.

Ecuador and Peru have had conflicts over their border since colonial times. After independence, repeated efforts to establish the border failed and there were periods of tension and armed conflict. Following a war in 1941, the two countries concluded the 1942 Rio de Janeiro Protocol of Peace, Friendship and Boundaries that defined the border and provided for its demarcation. The demarcation process broke down by the late 1940s, however, and there were occasional outbreaks of fighting in the undemarcated sectors.

In 1995, in the most serious combat since 1941, Peru and Ecuador fought in a remote undemarcated area. As Guarantors of the Rio Protocol, the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Chile became actively engaged in the search for a diplomatic solution. With Guarantor help, Ecuador and Peru agreed to stop fighting and seek a definitive peace settlement.

Without exemplary peacekeeping support from many nations, including the U.S., this peace would not be moving forward. Guarantor military observers (MOMEP) organized the withdrawal of troops from the disputed Cenepa Valley and supervised demobilization of troops on both sides. The combat zone was demilitarized. MOMEP, with the privatization of military personnel over the former guarantor states, continues to monitor the demilitarized zone.

Since February 1998, with the assistance of the Guarantors, Ecuador and Peru have been engaged in direct negotiations to reach a comprehensive and lasting settlement. This final settlement package is to consist of four agreements, each of which must be approved before any one is implemented. The package consists of: a commerce and navigation treaty guaranteeing Ecuador's free navigation on the Amazon; a mutual security agreement designed to prevent future conflicts; a border integration agreement which will stimulate much-needed development in both countries; and a completion of demarcation of the land border. Presidents Fujimori and Mahuad have met several times to resolve the remaining differences. The first three agreements have been completed, but no understanding has been reached on the fourth -- the land border question. Both countries stand to benefit enormously from the successful conclusion of the peace process. And all nations of the Americas take pride in the elimination of one of the last sources of international armed conflict in the Hemisphere.

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