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Chile and Peru leaders move to improve “rocky” bilateral relations

Tuesday, May 18th 2010 - 18:00 UTC
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Presidents García and Piñera are both attending the Madrid summit Presidents García and Piñera are both attending the Madrid summit

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera and Peruvian President Alan Garcia Perez met Sunday in the lead up to the European Union, Latin American, and Caribbean Summit in Madrid. The meeting represented a big step forward in improving the current rocky relations between Chile and Peru.

The meeting, described by Piñera as “fruitful and successful” and by García as “important and substantial,” primarily focused on reopening the “2 + 2” armament agreement, which first began in 2001.

The “2 + 2” agreement was originally put on the table under the Ricardo Lagos administration to build mutual trust in regards to arms purchases made by Chile and Peru. The agreement was to include regular checks on weapons and defence spending, but was abandoned following a request that Chile cut its armaments spending by 20%.

Last year relations between the two nations took a plunge after Chile distanced itself even further from the arms agreement by purchasing large amounts of offensive weapons. Relations were tested more recently following Peruvian demands at the International Court of Justice regarding ownership of fish-rich coastal waters.

Despite past problems, Piñera made it clear during his campaign that he wants to improve Chile’s relations with its bordering countries, especially Peru and Bolivia. Chile has been on the edge with both countries with since the Pacific war more than 100 years ago.

Piñera’s main request was that García not bring up his plan for arms restriction in Latin America at the conference. Piñera believed that any mention of disarmament could be seen as an accusation pointed at Chile. In return Piñera agreed to further discussions about forming a system to track military spending, which was originally planned in the “2 + 2” agreement.

“We need to work very patiently to eliminate old reservations,” García told local media. “Nothing and no one should stop us from peacefully walking together.”

While arms were the leaders’ main topic of discussion, they also discussed the future of Chilean and Peruvian relations in general. According to NASDAQ News, the two nations plan on implemented measures to better integrate their economies, starting with an integrated border crossing system.

The talks come in the wake of several symbolic gestures indicating an improvement in relations between the two nations. Following February’s earthquake, Peru was among the first to send medical aid, and prior to the meeting both leaders exchanged invitations to visit their respective countries.

“While we have had differences in the past,” said Piñera, “noble and intelligent countries, like Peru and Chile, are capable of overcoming them by way of international laws and treaties and to not deviate from the future, which is what brings us all together and unites us.”

By Lindsay Fendt – Santiago Times

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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