[QODLink]
Americas
El Salvador president sworn in
Leader of former Marxist rebels restores ties with Cuba in first act as president.
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2009 23:44 GMT
Funes has pledged to maintain strong
ties with Washington [AFP]

The leader of a party founded by Marxist rebels has been sworn in as the president of El Salvador, pledging to maintain good relations with Washington while restoring full diplomatic ties with Cuba after 50 years.

Mauricio Funes, the leader of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), was sworn in at a ceremony attended by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, on Monday.

Alfredo Lazo, the Cuban vice-president, also attended the ceremony in San Salvador, as did Brazil's leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Michelle Bachelet of Chile.

"We turned to the strong examples of Obama and Lula as proof that progressive leaders - instead of being a threat - can be a new, safe alternative for their people," Funes said in his inaugural address.

Civil war

Funes' first act as president was to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, leaving the US as the last country in the Western Hemisphere with no formal ties with the Caribbean island.

A former television journalist, the 59-year-old was elected in March, becoming the country's first left-wing leader in more than 20 years.

He replaced Tony Saca, whose staunchly conservative government was one of the strongest backers of Washington in the region.

He is the first FMLN leader not have fought during the country's 1980-1992 civil war in which 75,000 people were killed, many by right-wing death squads.

Funes' elder brother Roberto was killed by police during the conflict.

After the inauguration, Clinton said the US wanted to improve relations with Latin America.

"We have to recognise that our country is not perfect either, that some of the difficulties that we had historically in forging strong and lasting relationships in our hemisphere are a result of us perhaps not listening, perhaps not paying enough attention," she told US embassy employees.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
US state is first to issue comprehensive draft regulations for the online currency, but critics say they are onerous.
Survivors of Shujayea bombardment recount horror tales amid frantic search for lost family members.
Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed tells international donors to be more accountable and work more closely with the government.
Indian rights activists are concerned about proposed changes in juvenile law that will allow harsher punishment.
Acidification of the world's oceans is believed to be behind plummet in oyster population in the US' Pacific Northwest.
join our mailing list