Rebel commander, Peruvian negotiator meet face-to-face
February 11, 1997
Web posted at: 6:54 p.m. EST (2354 GMT)
LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- Talks aimed at freeing 72 hostages held
at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima got under way
Tuesday between a rebel representative and chief government
negotiator Domingo Palermo.
The Tupac Amaru rebels' second-in-command, Roli Rojas, apparently left
the residence late Tuesday afternoon in a white
Red Cross car. It was impossible to see inside the vehicle
because the windows were tinted.
The driver drove 150 feet, across the street to a specially
rented two-story "safe house."
It was the first time the rebel leader had left the compound
of the Japanese ambassador's house in nearly two months. The
two men, meeting under the watchful eye of a guarantor
commission, will attempt to set an agenda for further
government talks with rebel leader Nestor Cerpa.
Before the meeting, journalists saw a car slowly approach the
ambassador's compound, stop in an area inaccessible to dozens
of TV camera crews stationed on a nearby rooftop, then drive
across the street and into a garage.
Members of special police units, dressed in black and armed
with automatic weapons, were stationed every 100 yards along
the street. Rojas was said to have laid down his weapons
before setting out for the meeting.
The hostages are all who remain of more than 500 VIPs the
rebels took captive at a lavish cocktail party at the
residence December 17. The Japanese ambassador to Peru held
the social event to mark the birthday of the emperor of
Japan. The other hostages have been freed. Until Tuesday, no
rebel leader had left the safety of the Japanese compound.
Members of a guarantor commission overseeing the talks
include Red Cross representative Michel Minnig, Canadian
Ambassador Anthony Vincent and Roman Catholic Bishop Juan
Luis Cipriani. Sitting in as an official observer for Japan
is Terusuke Tarada, the Japanese ambassador to Mexico.
Commission members said the two sides agreed to a pact of
silence over the content of the discussions.
The rebels have said they won't release the remaining
captives until the Peruvian government releases 440 of their
comrades jailed in Peruvian prisons. Peruvian President
Albert Fujimori has repeatedly stated that he will not
release any of the prisoners.
One issue that was expected to arise during the talks was the
possibility of finding asylum in another country for the
rebels holding the hostages.
The rebels last met face-to-face with Palermo on December 28.
Since then, talks have stalled because of the impasse over
the rebels' demands. The two sides have exchanged messages
Cipriani, a close personal friend of Fujumori, has warned
that the talks will be delicate and discretion will be the
"All the information related to the issues discussed deserve
to be managed by everyone with great discretion and
responsibility," he said.
Among the remaining 72 captives are two Peruvian ministers,
the Japanese and Bolivian ambassadors, about two dozen
Japanese businessmen and Fujimori's brother.
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