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Ecuadorean Police Clash With Indians Protesting Free Trade

Ecuadorean police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of Indian demonstrators who took to the streets of the capital, Quito, Monday to protest free trade talks with the United States.

The clash took place as Ecuadorean and U.S. officials prepared to meet Thursday in Washington for the resumption of the trade negotiations.

The protesters are demanding that the Ecuadorean government abandon the talks, saying a trade pact will damage their livelihoods and way of life. President Alfredo Palacio has pledged to continue the discussions.

In a related development, the government Monday appointed Felipe Vega as the new interior minister.

Vega has been involved in negotiations with the protesters and replaces Alfredo Castillo, who resigned last week after making comments suggesting the demonstrations could bring down the government.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.