July 5, 2006

Peru’s Garcia denies alliance against Chavez

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Peruvian President-elect Alan
Garcia denied on Wednesday he is seeking a regional strategic
alliance against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Garcia, who will assume the presidency on July 28, arrived
in Bogota to meet for the first time Colombia's President
Alvaro Uribe. Garcia has already visited Chile and Brazil and
heads to Ecuador on Thursday.

Some analysts say Garcia is pushing for a regional bloc
with Brazil, Chile and Colombia to balance Chavez' influence in
the region with allies Cuba and Bolivia.

"In no way I am planing an axis or group of countries to
offset the interventionist influence of a country. I am
convinced that only with our democracy Peru has been able to
stop any pressure or intervention, and doesn't need to go
beyond that," Garcia told reporters in Bogota.

Garcia did not comment directly about Chavez.

Chavez recently called Garcia "a lap dog" of Washington
after a series of verbal exchanges during the presidential
campaign in Peru.

Chavez openly endorsed former Peruvian presidential
candidate Ollanta Humala which ignited a diplomatic crisis that
led the recall of their respective ambassadors.

Garcia also told reporters he would not allow his country
to be used to trade arms or drugs to Colombia and said he would
intensify security along the binational frontier.