Jose Miguel Insulza
Organization of American States foreign ministers, meeting on the sidelines of a democracy conference in Santiago, have reached an agreement ending a bitter political battle over who will be the next OAS secretary-general. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez dropped out of the race in favor of Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza.

The deal ending the months-long stalemate over the OAS leadership post was finalized on the sidelines of the Community of Democracies meeting here, with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice playing a key mediation role.

Mexican Foreign Minister Derbez, who was the candidate the United States favored for the job, announced his withdrawal at a surprise news conference here attended by Ms. Rice and Mr. Insulza, who will be elected by consensus at an O.A.S. meeting in Washington Monday.

Mr. Insulza, a former Chilean foreign minister, said his goals as secretary-general will be strengthening, protecting and promoting democracy in the hemisphere, this at a time when democratic rule in some member states, notably Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, is under strain.

Ms. Rice held direct and telephone consultations with OAS colleagues aimed at breaking the impasse throughout her current four-nation Latin American trip, which ends late Friday with talks in El Salvador.