Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said on Thursday that Chile was ready to have open dialog with Bolivia, and that both governments were preparing an agenda in their respective consulates, according to reports arriving in Lima from Bolivia.
Choquehuanca made the statement during a meeting this week with his Chilean counterpart, Alejandro Foxley, in the Dominican Republic, where both were attending the 36th Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly.
Bolivia has refused to sell gas to energy-hungry Chile until their territorial dispute dating from a 19th-century war is sorted out. Landlocked Bolivia lost its access to the Pacific in the war.
"Our position, as we have always said, is that the issue of access to the sea is the top priority," Choquehuanca said.
"Bolivia's and Chile's consuls will work on setting up a round table, with an open agenda where we can touch upon topics which affect both nations in a holistic way," the foreign minister added.
The long dispute reached a low when two countries shut down their embassies in 1978. But their bilateral relations have begun to warm and in January Chile's then-president, Ricardo Lagos, attended the inauguration of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia. Morales also attended the inauguration of Michelle Bachelet as Chilean president in March.