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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fujimori Takes Publicity Offensive

LIMA, Peru -- President Alberto Fujimori launched a publicity offensive against Marxist rebels holding 74 hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence here and sought to resume talks to end the 23-day-old crisis.


Fujimori's energetic style, in stark contrast to a low-profile approach in the first three weeks of the crisis, led to speculation Thursday that negotiations and hostage releases, which halted last week, would resume.


A relaxed and joking Fujimori led an election-style tour of Lima's poor neighborhoods Wednesday, lambasting the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, guerrillas as "terrorists" and promising to bring a peaceful end to the crisis.


Talks between the government and the rebels stopped abruptly after a first face-to-face meeting 12 days ago, but Fujimori said he was eager to see negotiations revived.


"I would say we are looking for more favorable conditions allowing this contact to happen," he told CNN in an interview.


Fujimori blamed the stalled negotiations on an impromptu news conference given by guerrillas inside the residence New Year's Eve.


The president said a "commission of guarantors" could be formed to oversee a peaceful end to the crisis but gave few clues to his strategy to secure the release of the hostages.


He repeated he would not grant the rebels' main demand, that he pardon about 400 jailed colleagues, and said if any of the hostages were hurt the government would consider ending the siege with force.


There was no immediate response from the 20-odd MRTA guerrillas who seized the diplomatic residence in a carefully planned assault Dec. 17, bursting in on an exclusive cocktail party and taking more than 500 guests hostage.


A slow but steady trickle of hostage releases dried up Jan. 1, and the rebels held top government and security force officials, about two dozen Japanese businessmen and diplomats and the brother of Fujimori on Thursday.