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Spanish minister in Panama to end $2b canal impasse

Published on Jan 6, 2014 8:47 PM

PANAMA CITY (AFP) - A Spanish cabinet minister is to meet Panama's president on Monday to help break a US$1.6 billion (S$2 billion) impasse that threatens to halt work on a major expansion of the Panama Canal.

Spanish Public Works Minister Ana Pastor arrived in the Central American country late Sunday and is to meet President Ricardo Martinelli and Panama Canal Authority Administrator Jorge Quijano.

Pastor's goal is to mediate in a conflict between Panama and the construction group working on the canal expansion led by Spanish builder Sacyr.

The Grupo Unidos por el Canal consortium, which also includes Italian, Belgian and Panamanian companies, has threatened to halt the project in three weeks if canal authorities fail to pay a massive extra US$1.6 billion charge.

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