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Panama Canal halt threat put off until next month

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Photo - Paolo Moder, member of the Spanish-led consortium, United for the Canal, leaves at the end of a meeting with Panama Canal administrators and the canal authority's insurer, in Panama City, Tuesday, Jan.  21, 2014. The head of the Panama Canal said Tuesday that there may be a solution in sight to the $1.6 billion dispute that has threatened to halt work on the canal's expansion. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
Paolo Moder, member of the Spanish-led consortium, United for the Canal, leaves at the end of a meeting with Panama Canal administrators and the canal authority's insurer, in Panama City, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. The head of the Panama Canal said Tuesday that there may be a solution in sight to the $1.6 billion dispute that has threatened to halt work on the canal's expansion. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco) (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
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PANAMA CITY (AP) — The Spanish-led construction consortium leading the expansion of the Panama Canal has formally extended its deadline for a work stoppage until Feb. 1 while it negotiates a $1.6 billion cost overrun with the canal administrator.

The group known as United for the Canal said Thursday that it will continue negotiating until at least the start of February in an attempt to resolve the fight over who should pay for the cost overruns. The consortium and the Panama Canal Authority each blames the other for the overruns and wants it to assume the costs of continuing the expansion.

The construction group led by Sacyr of Spain had set a Monday deadline for resolving the crisis and avoiding a halt in the work, but it has continued negotiating under international pressure.

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