Peruvian government negotiator enters Japanese ambassador's residence
First apparent contact between government and rebels comes on 11th day of crisis
December 28, 1996
Web posted at: 2:30 p.m. EST (1930 GMT)
LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- Peruvian Education Minister Domingo Palermo accompanied Bishop Juan Luis Cipriani and Red Cross negotiator Michael Minnig into the home of the Japanese ambassador to Peru Saturday, apparently the first time the Peruvian government has been in direct contact with the rebels holding over 100 hostages inside.
President Alberto Fujimori appointed Palermo the government's chief negotiator a day after Tupac Amaru rebels stormed a party at the ambassor's residence and took over 500 people hostage on December 17. But Palermo kept his distance from the residence while Minnig handled all talks with the rebels.
There was no word on the reason for Palermo's visit to the residence, where the hostage crisis entered its 11th day with heightened security measures in and around Lima.
Fujimori signed a decree Friday placing all of Lima and the surrounding port of Calao under emergency rule for 60 days, allowing security forces to stop and search anyone at anytime.
Previously, only the center and industrial outskirts of
the Peruvian capital were under a state of emergency.
Since overrunning the Japanese ambassador's residence, the rebels have released all but 103 people. Fujimori has refused to negotiate with the rebels, and the Peruvian Congress unanimously approved a statement Friday supporting the president.
Earlier Friday, a caller directed Peruvian journalists to pick up a parcel containing a 12-point communique, supposedly from Tupac Amaru. The document condemned the government and press and quoted passages from the Bible to justify the hostage-taking. It also says that unless Peruvian media publish and broadcast the message no more hostages will be released.
Outside Peru, the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized
nations escalated its rhetoric against the hostage-takers,
backing Peru's tough stand.
The countries weighed in to condemn them as terrorists and
promised to help the Peruvian government with "all the
appropriate means that it could request."
The communique was issued by France, which holds the
organization's rotating presidency. It said the group --
along with Russia -- "reaffirmed the general principle under
which no concession must be made in the face of a terrorist
action" and that G7 countries "express their solidarity with
the Peruvian government and support its efforts to resolve
the crisis peacefully, with the main objective of sparing
Shortly after the statement was issued, Peruvian ministers
arrived at the government palace in downtown Lima for an
emergency cabinet meeting with Fujimori.
Earlier on Friday, Japan, whose nationals account for the
largest number of hostages after Peru, called for unity in
resolving the crisis. "It is clear that the international
community should not condone terrorism," Foreign Minister
Yukihiko Ikeda told a news conference. "It is also
necessary...to act as one to help resolve this crisis by
setting free all the hostages peacefully, and at an early
Correspondents Susan Candiotti, Lucia Newman and Reuters contributed to this report.
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