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Company expanding Panama Canal agrees to put off threat to halt work until next month

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.