QUITO - Ecuador’s government said on Tuesday it would be open to mediation via the United Nations or the Catholic Church, after almost a week of anti-austerity protests that have rocked the nation and brought hundreds of arrests. Thousands of indigenous demonstrators were converged on the highland capital, Quito, and were planning to march on the heavily guarded presidential palace on Tuesday. Facing the biggest challenge to his two-and-a-half-year rule, President Lenin Moreno has declared a state of emergency here and moved government operations to the coastal city of Guayaquil where there has been less trouble. “The only response is dialogue and firmness at the same time,” presidency secretary Juan Roldan told local radio, saying authorities were open to help from the United Nations, the Catholic Church or university rectors. The number of arrests had risen to 570, he said. Protests erupted last Thursday when the government cut fuel subsidies here as part of a package of economic reforms in keeping with a $4.2 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. Indigenous groups and others have been barricading roads with burning tires, rocks and branches, while police have deployed armored vehicles and tear gas in response. Among those detained were a Congress member who supports Moreno’s predecessor Rafael Correa, said Roldan. Moreno has accused the leftist Correa, his one-time mentor and boss when he was vice president, of seeking a coup with the help of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. Agencies