Foreign secretary Komura leaves with message for Peru

State Foreign Secretary Masahiko Komura left for Peru on Mar. 17, carrying a message from the prime minister that the Lima hostage standoff must be resolved via peaceful means.

Komura, as Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s special envoy, will meet Mar. 18 with Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori to coordinate views on the situation, Foreign Ministry officials said. In his talks with Fujimori, Komura, who will arrive in Lima early Mar. 18, is expected to reiterate the Japanese government’s intention to peacefully solve the hostage standoff. Komura is the No. 2 official in the Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile in Peru, a Peruvian government source expressed displeasure over the purpose of Komura’s visit. While there, Komura also will meet with members of the so-called guarantor commission, which is overseeing talks between the Peruvian government and the leftist rebels, the ministry officials said.

Komura will arrive in Cuba on Mar. 19 and will leave for the Dominican Republic on Mar. 20 to meet with leaders of the two countries and discuss possible asylum for the hostage-takers, according to the officials. Cuban President Fidel Castro has offered asylum to the rebels on condition that a formal request be made by all parties involved.

Komura, who is carrying messages from Hashimoto to the countries’ leaders, will head back to Japan on Mar. 23. In a predeparture interview with Kyodo News, Komura said he would formally request the leaders of Cuba and the Dominican Republic to accept the Tupac Amaru rebels if they agree to the Peruvian government’s offer of safe passage to either country.

Hashimoto earlier told a news conference that Komura is authorized to act on his own discretion but not to give Peru the green light to use force to end the three-month-old standoff. Komura said he is not optimistic about settling the situation since there is still a wide gap between the positions of the Peruvian government and the MRTA. But he said he also is not pessimistic since the two sides are expected to continue talking.