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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Peru, Japan Leaders Head to Summit

LIMA, Peru -- President Alberto Fujimori heads for Canada as part of an intense campaign to persuade Japan that he is doing everything possible to find a peaceful solution to the hostage crisis.

The hastily called one-day summit Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto could lead to renewed negotiations to free the 72 hostages being held by leftist guerrillas.

Before leaving for Toronto, Fujimori summoned 43 relatives of the hostages to the government palace, assuring them of his commitment to seek a peaceful solution to the standoff.

"I wanted to call you together to share moments of anguish, anxiety and suffering, which you have lived through," he said.

Fujimori, whose younger brother Pedro is among the captives, said he was committed to seeking a peaceful solution to the standoff. He recognized the relatives' desire for a swift end to the crisis and said he wanted to take that wish with him in his "conscience and heart."

Tupac Amaru leader Nestor Cerpa and about 20 followers seized the Japanese ambassador's mansion Dec. 17, initially taking more than 500 hostages. They released most within the first two weeks of the crisis.

Fujimori is also scheduled to stop in Washington, where he is to address the permanent council of the Organization of American States on Monday. He will speak about terrorism and the hostages in Lima.

Rumors abound that he might meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton, but the White House indicted it had not received a request for a meeting and Clinton's agenda was closed.

Fujimori asked for the meeting with Hashimoto after the Japanese prime minister twice this week cautioned Peru on its handling of the hostage situation.

Hashimoto was concerned about militarized police maneuvers outside the diplomatic residence that led to shots being fired by the rebels Monday. A police troop carrier was nicked by the gunfire and Japan urged Peru not to take any unnecessary risks. Peru has since toned down the police activity.

Still, police blasted military music at the ambassador's residence twice Thursday, trying to irritate the rebels. The martial tunes drowned out the rebels' shouted revolutionary slogans.

While the rebels and the government have agreed in principle to talks to end the hostage crisis, no meetings have yet been scheduled. The impasse is the rebels' demand that talks include discussion of freedom for at least 300 imprisoned guerrillas. Fujimori says the issue is out of the question.

Meanwhile, police Thursday hunted for a small band of leftist rebels. Police say the five or six rebels they are seeking may include Hugo Avellaneda Valdez, the highest-ranking Tupac Amaru leader after Cerpa.

The rest of the movement's leaders are in prison.

Avellaneda Valdez was last reported to be in France, the pro-government newspaper Expreso reported Thursday.

The rebels are believed to be in a safe house in Lima and communicating by radio with Cerpa, according to a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Police believe Cerpa has sophisticated radio equipment inside the ambassador's residence.

The band is thought to be acting as a liaison between guerrillas holed up in the Japanese residence and their comrades in the remote jungle.