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Panama, Mexico sign trade pact

Playa Bonita, Panama, Apr 3 (EFE).- Panama signed a free-trade deal here Thursday with Mexico, paving the way for the Central American country's entry into the Pacific Alliance trade bloc. Panamanian Trade Minister Ricardo Quijano and Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal signed the pact, while Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto witnessed the signing ceremony.

Panamanian foreign minister resigns

Panama's top diplomat Fernando Nunez Fabrega resigned Friday, citing personal reasons, and his deputy was appointed to take the post. President Ricardo Martinelli accepted Nunez's resignation, saying he quit the post "to serve private and family commitments," the presidential office said in a statement. Nunez told reporters he plans to spend more time on his farm in the central province of Cocle and "rest." He was replaced by his one-time deputy, Francisco Alvarez de Soto, a fierce critic of leftist governments in the region.

Panama impounds North Korean ship carrying war materiel

Panama City, Jul 16 (EFE).- Authorities have impounded a North Korea-flagged ship found to be carrying weapons, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said. "The ship was on its way from Cuba to North Korea," Martinelli told reporters, and indicated that "after removing the first layer" of sugar they found arms hidden in two containers. The president, who went to the port of Manzanillo to learn more about the case, said they were dealing with "military and ballistic materiel," and when reporters asked him whether missiles had been found, he said he didn't know.

Panama discovers hidden weapons aboard North Korea-bound ship

Panama has detained a North Korean-flagged ship coming from Cuba as it approached the Panama Canal with undeclared weapons, President Ricardo Martinelli said.

Member of Panamanian first lady's security team arrested

Panama City, May 21 (EFE).- A member of the security team for Panamanian first lady Marta Linares de Martinelli was arrested by the National Police during an anti-drug operation, officials said. The man, who worked as a courier, was arrested Monday along with several other people in Don Bosco, located east of Panama City, "while driving a white Ford Explorer" that had been assigned to him, the Communications Secretariat said.

Japan requests cap on Panama Canal transit fees

Japan on Thursday requested that transit fees for the Panama Canal be capped as the waterway is of increasing importance to Japan as it imports natural gas from eastern and southern parts of the United States. The request was communicated when Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida held talks with his Panamanian counterpart Fernando Nunez Fabrega and President Ricardo Martinelli in Panama Thursday morning. It is the first visit to Panama by a Japanese foreign minister.
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