Morales will work tactfully to restore Bolivia's sea access
President-elect Evo Morales said Tuesday that he will tread lightly in his efforts to secure the return of the stretch of Pacific coastline Bolivia lost to Chile in a 19th-century war.
After returning from his trip of just a few hours to Argentina for a meeting with President Nestor Kirchner, Morales said at a press conference in the military airport of La Paz that he will put the subject back on the table without bluster and without alarming anyone.
"We have to work without sounding off if we want to regain access to the sea, and I want to ask you not to alarm people about this issue if we want our access to the sea," Morales said when asked by reporters about the upcoming visit of Chilean president Ricardo Lagos.
At the personal invitation of Morales, the Chilean head of state said Tuesday that he will attend the Bolivian's presidential inauguration on Sunday and will discuss with him the state of relations between the two countries.
According to Morales, the presence of Chile's head of state in La Paz will permit a conversation dedicated to "resolving social, political and historical issues."
The Socialist president-elect added that to aid in discussing these topics he will also appeal to the presidents of Bolivia's neighboring countries, "to the international community and especially to the Chilean people."
Morales also congratulated by phone last Sunday the new president-elect of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, who will take office in March.
According to the Chilean press, Lagos presence will be "a powerful political sign" to the future Bolivian president of Chile's willingness to improve diplomatic relations with that country and examine sea recovery in an atmosphere of mutual trust.
Bolivia and Chile have not had diplomatic relations since 1978, after the failure of negotiations that would have allowed the landlocked Andean nation to regain access to the Pacific Ocean, a goal that has become an insistent demand in international forums.
In recent times, however, there has been a certain rapprochement between the two countries thanks to the efforts of their respective outgoing presidents, Eduardo Rodríguez and Lagos, who in December signed a trade agreement that will benefit Bolivian exports.