Panama wants UN to back reconciliation bid over US invasion

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US soldiers atop armored vehicles take up a security position in a street of Panama City during Operation Just Cause, on December 23, 1989 US soldiers atop armored vehicles take up a security position in a street of Panama City during Operation Just Cause, on December 23, 1989

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Panama said Friday it wants the UN to back its "reconciliation" process looking at the US invasion of its territory 26 years ago that left thousands of affected people demanding compensation.
The inclusion of UN bodies would give "international legitimacy" to the effort the government launched a year ago, Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo said in a statement.
The US military swept into Panama on December 20, 1989 with the stated aims of upholding human rights, protecting Americans living there, curbing drug trafficking, and to ensure the neutrality of the Panama Canal.
American forces captured dictator Manuel Noriega, who had previously worked with the CIA for decades.
He was taken to the US, tried on drug trafficking and money laundering charges, and imprisoned.
After completing his US sentence in 2007, Noriega was sent to France in 2010 and incarcerated there on another money laundering conviction, and then to Panama a year later, where he remains imprisoned for crimes committed during his rule.
De Saint Malo said the UN Development Program and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had been invited to take part in Panama's reconciliation process.
A relative of a victim of the 1989 US invasion of Panama pays a visit to the cemetery in Panama City on December 20, 2011.
Officially, the US Defense Department recorded some 500 deaths in the invasion, but other organizations put the toll at a several thousand.
Thousands of people lost their homes and many businesses were destroyed.
The Panamanian government has hosted several meetings with families of those killed and other people affected by the US invasion, and with international rights experts.
The issue of indemnization has been raised often, but thus far not formally voiced by the government.
Many Panamanians today view the invasion as a boon in ridding them of Noriega and allowing them to grow into a prosperous democracy.

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