The discussions take place in the presence of the two delegations, inside the premises of the Episcopal Conference in the capital.

The mediators “proposed to both parties, for the good of the country and the achievement of peace, a total reduction of 15 cents (of the dollar) per gallon” (about four liters) of diesel and regular gasoline, said the vice-president of the Conference, Monsignor Alfredo Espinoza. This represents an additional drop of five cents, after the 10 cents conceded on Sunday by the government as a sign of goodwill.

The natives had judged this measure “insufficient”, demanding a reduction of 40 cents.

Both parties have “accepted” this new proposal, Bishop Esponoza said, but the negotiated agreement remains to be signed, he said.

The indigenous delegation withdrew shortly after to deliberate and decide on this proposal, noted AFP.

After initial discussions on Monday, the executive suspended talks on Tuesday, the day after an attack in the Amazon in which a soldier was killed. On Wednesday evening, he finally announced his return to the negotiating table today, with the mediation of the Catholic Church.

The government is represented by the minister of government affairs, Francisco Jimenez, the minister of foreign affairs, Juan Carlos Holguin, and the secretary general of the presidency, Ivan correa.

Opposite, three indigenous delegates are present, including Leonidas Iza, the head of the powerful Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (Conaie), the spearhead of the demonstrations.

Outside the Episcopal Conference, thousands of indigenous people were gathered, having once again marched through the center of the capital.

Six people, five demonstrators and a soldier, have been killed since the protests began. More than 600 people, civilians or members of the security forces, were injured, with some 150 arrests, according to observers.

The dispute weighs on the economy of Ecuador, in particular on the oil extraction. Past mobilizations of the indigenous movement caused the fall of three presidents between 1997 and 2005.