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Ecuador's government has suspended negotiations with protesting Indigenous groups, President Guillermo Lasso said Tuesday, after a soldier was killed in an attack blamed by a minister on "violent demonstrators."
Lasso, in an address to the nation, accused Indigenous leader Leonidas Iza of self-serving politics, and said: "We will not negotiate with those who hold Ecuador hostage."
The military said a soldier was killed and five police and seven soldiers injured in an early-morning attack by an armed group on a tanker truck escort in the country's east.
Interior Minister Patricio Carillo expressed condolences to the family of fallen soldier Jose Chimarro in a tweet, and described the attackers as "violent demonstrators."
Indigenous representatives had met with the government on Monday in an attempt to end nationwide demonstrations against high living costs that have rocked the country for two weeks.
A second day of talks scheduled for Tuesday morning failed to get underway as negotiators from the government did not show up.
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"The country has witnessed all the efforts we have made to establish a fruitful and sincere dialogue," said Lasso, a former banker who took office just over a year ago.
"But we will not sit down again to dialogue with Leonidas Iza, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base."