CANAL DISPUTE

Minister to go to Panama to try to diffuse canal project crisis

Ana Pastor to meet with Panamanian president

An escalating row over the cost of construction work on the Panama Canal has got government officials and diplomats from several countries scrambling to find a rapid solution to the crisis.

Spanish Public Works Minister Ana Pastor will travel to Panama next week to meet with President Ricardo Martinelli, who has threatened to fly to Madrid and Rome to demand that the governments there fulfill their “moral responsibility.”

Martinelli, who took office in 2009, said Spanish and Italian government heads told him at the time that they would guarantee support for the canal expansion, since the goal was “for the work to continue.”

Construction work on a third set of locks for the canal is being conducted by a consortium led by Spanish builder Sacyr.

A spokesman for the Panamanian president’s office confirmed that Pastor and Martinelli would meet at the seat of government there. In the meantime, the president will meet with the Spanish and Italian ambassadors to Panama and ask them for “cooperation” to try to find a solution to the impasse.

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