Chile's President Gabriel Boric Font Monday urged his Bolivian counterpart Luis Arce Catacora to resume diplomatic ties, which were severed in the 1970s.
”We have many elements of integration that we can work on (with Bolivia). The resumption of diplomatic relations is a point of arrival, I would love to move towards that, it only depends on the will of both parties, Boric told reporters during his first press conference as head of state.
I think it is absurd that two neighboring countries with a common history in Latin America so long ago do not have diplomatic relations. The last time we had diplomatic relations was when we were under dictatorship, Boric went on during the meeting at La Moneda.
In March 1978, Bolivia broke diplomatic relations with Chile and since then there have been only consular relations, with no embassies.
The cause for the breakup was a territorial dispute, which has existed since the late 19th century after the War of the Pacific deprived Bolivia of its access to the sea.
Chile does not negotiate its sovereignty, as I imagine no country does, Boric warned.
I understand that President Arce has to say certain things, but what I have invited him to do so, and I believe that there is a good disposition on both sides, not to put the cart before the horse, he added.
Boric, a former congressman and student leader, called for leaving aside the territorial issue and said that both countries have a tremendously important integration agenda in terms of energy or transport.”
Another issue that confronts both nations is the sovereignty of the Silala River, for which they will meet again in international courts in April after the lawsuit that Chile filed in 2016 before the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) against Bolivia.
With this claim, Chile seeks to prevent the flow of waters into its territory by arguing that the Silala is an international river, while Bolivia argues that they are actually springs that are born within its boundaries.
If the only discussion with Bolivia is with respect to sovereignty we will not get anywhere because we have different positions, Boric insisted.
However, we do have many points on which we can reach agreements, he stressed.