June 13, 2006

Peru’s Garcia denies apology to Chavez

By Guido Nejamkis

BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) - Peruvian President-elect Alan
Garcia said on Tuesday he would not apologize to Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez to end a diplomatic rift, and he declared
he wanted close ties with Brazil.

Venezuela and Peru withdrew their respective ambassadors in
May in a diplomatic spat provoked by Peruvian allegations that
Chavez was interfering in Peru's presidential runoff between
Garcia and Chavez-backed candidate Ollanta Humala.

"Don't ask me to apologize for something that originated
with interference and expressions that are unacceptable in
international law," Garcia said after meeting President Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva in the capital Brasilia.

Chavez said on Sunday that he recognized Garcia's victory,
but that relations with the government of Peru are "in the
deepest freezer we could put them."

Garcia, who won Peru's presidential election on June 4,
called Chavez "shameless" during his campaign, and Chavez
responded by calling him a "thief" and threatened to cut
diplomatic ties with the Andean nation.

Garcia said on Tuesday he would not permit Venezuelan
influence in Peru. Instead, he proposed closer ties between
PetroPeru and Brazil's Petrobras, the two state petroleum
companies. He also proposed cooperation to build a road and

"I declare Peru open to Brazilian investment," Garcia said.

Garcia also said he supported Lula's bid for re-election in
general elections in October. The former union leader is widely
expected to launch his candidacy next week.

Chavez, a self-styled socialist revolutionary, is at the
forefront of a leftist resurgence in Latin America that has
capitalized on strong anti-U.S. sentiment. But Chavez's efforts
to build leftist alliances in Latin America and roll back
U.S.-sponsored free trade agreements have irked governments
like Colombia and Peru.

Chavez openly backed Garcia's rival and has provided
similar support for leftist Nicaraguan presidential hopeful
Daniel Ortega.