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Thursday, November 26, 1998 Published at 00:00 GMT

President Frei pleas for calm

President Eduardo Frei: Sent foreign minister to London

Extracts from a speech broadcast on Chilean national television.

President Eduardo Frei urged Chileans on Wednesday to remain calm, and said his government would continue to press its case for the release of former miltary leader General Augusto Pinochet.

"The ruling we have heard - which is against the immunity principle being defended by Chile - will not make us modify our conduct.

"We will go before all the necessary instances and insist on our position. We always said that the judicial situation that Senator Pinochet is facing could extend beyond what we expected. This is not the end of a process. There are several other stages and at each one of them my government will assert its position."

'Very difficult' situation

"We know that diverse measures will be demanded [from the government]. Some will be reasonable and others will be the result of impatience and nervous attitudes.

"I want to say that my government has considered other initiatives that will be announced and carried out at the most convenient and effective time. We will not accept pressure from groups that have made declarations and taken actions which have contributed to worsen a situation that was already very difficult.

"The government is aware that this ruling could result in precipitate reactions by some sectors of our country. However, it is necessary to advise that one of the conditions for the success of the actions being carried out by the Chilean government in Spain and Great Britain is the responsible and calm behaviour of our institutions and our citizens.

"This is the time to act thoughtfully and to avoid any sort of provocation.

"The stability we have reached in the past years is one of our greatest strengths as a nation. Also, it is one of the values most appreciated by our people because it is one of the main foundations on which our coexistence develops.

National duty

"My duty as head of state is to protect it [stability] by committing all our citizens and all the national institutions, without exception.

"You can be certain that I will exercise these duties strongly and with great determination with the certainty that I have the support of the majority in my country.

"Faced with the possibility that this situation may extend longer than expected, it is my duty as head of state to urge all Chileans to continue carrying out our activities calmly and confidently as we have been doing. This is the daily contribution which each Chilean should make at this time."

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