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U.S. senators want good relations with Ecuador's leftist president-elect

U.S. senators want good relations with Ecuador's leftist president-elect

Incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that the United States wants to strengthen relations with Ecuadorean leftist President-elect Rafael Correa and respects his intention to not extend the U.S. military's use of a coastal base.
Reid, leading a bipartisan delegation of six U.S. senators, will remain in Ecuador until Sunday. The senators had previously visited Bolivia and will travel next to Peru.
On Friday, the delegation met for almost an hour with Correa, who takes office on Jan. 15, and expressed a desire to build better bilateral relations.
Asked about Ecuador's involvement in the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, a package of trade benefits that Washington offers in exchange for counter-drug cooperation, Reid said U.S. President George W. Bush supports an extension.
The U.S. Congress has renewed the agreement under which products from Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador can enter the North American market until June 2007.
"From my perspective, Ecuador has fulfilled all of the requirements for the extension," Reid said. "The people of Ecuador should feel comfortable that it will be extended."
Correa has previously said he will not sign a free trade agreement with the United States but will seek extended trade preferences under the anti-drug agreement. Trade talks between the U.S. and Ecuador derailed in May, after Ecuador canceled the operating contract of California-based Occidental Petroleum Corp.
Asked about Correa's friendship with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of the United States, Reid said Ecuadoreans have the right to choose their leader and that he believes the United States has begun dialogue with Ecuador.
Correa said in a news conference that he had a cordial and respectful meeting with the U.S. delegation, in which he reiterated his pledge to not extend the U.S. military's use of the Manta air base on the Pacific coast for drug surveillance flights when a treaty expires in 2009.
"We respect the sovereignty of Ecuador," Reid said.
Earlier, Ricardo Patino, whom Correa has named as his administration's economy minster, said that the Correa's goverment will not be anti-American.
Joining Reid and Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar were incoming Majority Whip Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois; Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota; Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican from New Hampshire; and Sen. Robert Bennett, a Republican from Utah.
The U.S. delegation is scheduled to travel Saturday to northern indigenous communities to meet with local leaders. The senators will travel next to Peru for talks with center-left President Alan Garcia on Jan. 2.
Correa, who has a doctorate from the University of Illinois, has pledged a citizens' revolution against Ecuador's discredited political system when he takes office Jan. 15. He has threatened to call a moratorium on Ecuador's foreign debt service to pay for social programs.


Updated : 2021-08-01 08:35 GMT+08:00