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Peru's Presidential Vote Result Welcomed at OAS Meeting


Latin American leaders meeting in Dominican Republic have welcomed the victory of Alan Garcia in Peru's presidential elections. Peruvian officials, however, renewed concerns about alleged Venezuelan interference in the vote. Officials say Venezuela is also meddling in Nicaraguan politics ahead of presidential elections.

Foreign ministers at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States congratulated Alan Garcia on his election win. Officials in Peru confirmed that the former president defeated nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala in Sunday's run-off vote.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, said U.S. officials look forward to working with Mr. Garcia.

"We welcome the elections in Peru, for the Peruvian people, because they were transparent and tranquil, and that's a very good thing," said Robert Zoellick.

Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, also welcomed the election result, and promised to continue working closely with Peru.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Oscar Maurtua thanked the 34-nation group for its support during the election. But he also repeated his government's concern over statements from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in support of Mr. Humala ahead of the vote.

He says Mr. Chavez's continued efforts to influence the decision of Peruvian voters during the election process is a "reprehensible and unprecedented act" in the hemisphere.

U.S. delegate Zoellick said the statements from Mr. Chavez have raised concerns in Washington and among many other Latin American governments. He said officials from other nations should feel free to speak out on the issue, adding that Peru's people have already made their sentiments clear.

"Of course, the best response is that of the Peruvian people, which decided to vote for President Garcia, and not for Chavez's candidate," he said.

And, he adds, Central American leaders at the assembly told him there is similar concern about Venezuela's role in presidential elections in Nicaragua later this year.

"One of the Central American ministers told me they had met as a group, and they were going to object to Venezuelan efforts to give subsidized financing, not to the country, not to the people, but to specific political parties and leaders," noted Robert Zoellick.

A key focus of the OAS General Assembly has been expanding economic and social opportunities to all communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Leaders are also discussing ways to combat corruption and improve human rights conditions.

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