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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007, 02:18 GMT 03:18 UK
Peru president regrets failings
Peruvian President Alan Garcia
Garcia told Congress more had to be done
Peru's President Alan Garcia has said his government has not done enough to improve the lives of the poor.

In a speech marking his first year in office, Mr Garcia - who has seen a sharp decline in his popularity - urged Peruvians to show patience.

He promised that increased investment would cut poverty before the end of his term in 2011.

Peru's economy is booming, but correspondents say the poor are yet to feel the benefits of its growth.

Mr Garcia has faced protests by several different trade unions in recent weeks.

He has apologised for calling some of the demonstrators "communists" and "parasites".

"I would have loved to do a lot more," he said in a speech to the country's Congress.

He promised to build houses for 1.2 million Peruvians before he leaves office in 2011, and said increased investment would "change the social face of Peru".

Mr Garcia's popularity has dropped from 63% a year ago to 32%, a recent poll suggests.

He urged the US Congress to push ahead with a Free Trade Agreement with Peru, saying such a deal would help the poorest Peruvians.

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