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Chile and Peru in sea border row

  • Story Highlights
  • Peru's foreign minister sought to downplay the row
  • Sea border dispute has bubbled anew over past two years
  • Less serious disputes involve dessert, fruit and a grape liquor
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SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) -- Chile called home its ambassador in Peru on Monday, as a dispute flared over disputed maritime territory between the South American neighbors.

They have bickered over the rich Pacific coast fishing waters for years, and Peru published a new map on Sunday that pushes its bid to negotiate a new sea border.

Chile's government protested the move and said it was calling home its ambassador in Peru, Cristian Barros, for consultations.

"We feel that this type of publication (map) and this position certainly make more difficult a fluid bilateral relationship with the Peruvian government," spokesman Ricardo Lagos Weber said on Monday.

"Chile will continue to fully exercise its rights and competencies over Chilean territory," he said.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia said in June his country would take Chile to the International Court at The Hague to resolve the case.

Peru's foreign minister, Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde, sought to downplay the row.

"It is an absolutely common diplomatic practice in novel situations like this that garner attention that ambassadors are called (back to report)," he said.

"The channels of dialogue and communication must be kept open, and the countries must work toward a positive agenda," Garcia Belaunde said.

The sea border, set in the 1950s, starts close to the land border and cuts due west across the ocean. But Peru says it was non-binding and rob it of 14,630 square miles (37,900 sq km) of fishing waters.

Its proposed border is a southwestern sloping line that follows the diagonal land border into the Pacific Ocean.

Analysts say Peru will have its day in court and the Hague is the only venue for the issue to be resolved, unless something happens to escalate the debate.

"The only thing that could happen, which would be very worrisome, would be if some autonomous group carried out some kind of act of sovereignty (in those waters) now that Peru officially claims them. That would be a shame," said Ricardo Israel, a political analyst in Chile.

Chile defeated Peru in the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific and seized a chunk of mineral-rich territory from its northern neighbor. The two countries have strong economic ties but relations are still rocky.

The dispute over their sea border has bubbled anew over the past two years and comes in addition to less serious disputes over the origins of everything from a dessert and a fruit to pisco, a grape liquor.

Peru and Chile are the world's top producers of fish meal, a cattle feed, and fishing is one of the engines of Peru's economy. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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