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Ecuador calls for talks with indigenous protesters

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa called for dialogue as police tried to contain demonstrations by stone-throwing indigenous protesters over a proposed government water policy.

The protesters, one of whom died in clashes with authorities, say the policy amounts to privatization of the country's water supply, a charge that Correa rejects.

The three-day protest erupted into violence on Wednesday, in the first serious confrontation between tribal leaders and Correa since he took office in 2007.

“We wait for them with open arms,” Correa said in a televised address. “But please, we never want to see this again, killing among Ecuadoreans.”

Stick-wielding demonstrators blocked highways in Ecuador's Amazon region, where many of the country's petroleum fields are located, but the protests did not affect oil production.

Previous Ecuadorean presidents have been toppled by similar unrest.

Correa is unpopular with international investors for his 2008 default on $3.2 billion in global bonds and his push to renegotiate oil contracts on terms more favorable to the state in this OPEC-member country. (Reuters)