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Bolivia, Russia agree on energy, military, anti-drug co-op
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11:02, February 17, 2009

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Bolivian President Evo Morales and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed agreements on energy, defense and drugs in Moscow on Monday, the Bolivian government said.

The agreements were signed at the Kremlin, Russia's political and administrative headquarters, where Medvedev called for a boost in ties between the two countries, saying Bolivia "is a partner with perspective."

Morales said both countries shared similar views on issues including environmental protection, respect of nature and global security.

They signed an agreement on energy cooperation, which paved the way for Grazprom, Russia's state-owned energy giant, to be involved in Bolivia's natural gas industry.

A memorandum was signed between Bolivia and the company to boost the development of the country's hydrocarbon projects. Bolivia has the second-largest gas reserves in South America of about 1.38 trillion cubic meters.

Another agreement signed by the two countries involved cooperation in drug fighting, since Bolivia has become a conduit for drugs produced in Peru and has unilaterally suspended support of the United States on this issue.

Both sides also agreed on military cooperation. Bolivian Civil Defense Vice Minister, Hernan Tuco, confirmed that multi-purpose helicopters will be bought and based in Cochabamba, central Bolivia.

"We have deficiencies in aerial strength, so the government, through the Defense Ministry, is making this important helicopter purchase," Tuco said.

Morales, accompanied by Hydrocarbons Minister Oscar Coca, Defense Minister Walker San Miguel and spokesman Ivan Canelas, will leave on Monday night for Paris, where he will meet his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

Morales will also meet with the Bollore Group on Tuesday, a company that has shown interest in exploiting the lithium beds in Bolivia.

Bolivia holds more than half of the world's lithium reserves, a mineral in high demand by the automotive industry.

Source: Xinhua

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