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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Peru Chile maritime boundary dispute

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Peru on Wednesday filed a suit with the World Court, asking the U.N.'s highest judicial organ to settle a long-simmering maritime border dispute with Chile.Peru argues that no maritime boundary was ever set, while Chile insists it was settled by treaties in 1952 and 1954. Peru says those pacts only governed fishing protocols.«I have presented to the secretary of the International Court of Justice the request of the government of Peru to decide on the controversy existing between Peru and Chile concerning their maritime boundary,» said Allan Wagner, a lawyer representing Peru, at a press conference in the Hague.«This begins the process which is a peaceful way of solving this dispute while at the same time continuing to strengthen relations between the two countries,» he said.The court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, did not immediately confirm the case had been filed.Established to resolve disputes between U.N. member states, the ICJ usually takes years to reach a final decision. The first step after Peru's filing will be for the court to consider whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case.News of the filing drew an immediate reaction from Chile's Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley, who said the areas claimed by Peru «are unquestionably under Chilean sovereignty and jurisdiction.Chile's relations with neighboring Peru and Bolivia have been undermined by disputes stemming from the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific, in which Chile captured territory from both neighbors _ including Bolivia's only coastline.Last year Chile recalled its ambassador from Lima after Peru published an official map indicating that the country owns a fishing-rich portion of the Pacific Ocean claimed by Chile.The speaker of Chile's lower house of congress, Patricio Walker, also canceled a planned visit to Lima, saying publication of the map was «a major provocation» by the Peruvian government.Earlier in the year, police used tear gas and batons to keep a caravan of 1,000 Peruvian nationalists from reaching the Chilean border, where they planned a protest linked to the maritime dispute.Associated Press writers Edison Lopez and Monte Hayes in Lima, Peru, and Eduardo Gallardo in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.
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