Chile and Bolivia agreed on Thursday to establish a joint committee for discussion on bilateral ties, a step closer in their efforts to re-establish full diplomatic relations between the two neighboring countries.
The committee is scheduled to meet for the first time on July 18 and the meeting would be chaired by the two countries' deputy foreign ministers, Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley told a joint press conference with new Bolivian consul to Chile Jose Pinelo.
Both Chile and Bolivia want not only "a very positive relationship" but also progress for the future, said Foxley, noting Chile was especially interested in working with Bolivia and Peru for joint projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
Pinelo said Bolivia was "very willing" to proceed with the endeavor for improved relations between them.
On Wednesday, Pinelo said the two countries had yet to begin formal talks on diplomatic ties but added the Bolivian government led by President Evo Morales was interested in strengthening bilateral relations.
Chile and Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations in 1978 over Bolivia's territory claim to Antofagasta, Bolivia's only access to sea which it lost to Chile during the 1879-1883 war when Bolivia and Peru fought Chile together.
The two countries have not held any discussion on the issue since 1987, when foreign ministers from both countries met in Uruguay but failed to reach an agreement.