Chile, Bolivia resume talks, revisit maritime dispute

13:29, July 29, 2011      

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Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales Thursday decided to resume talks between the two countries.

Both presidents made the decision while discussing bilateral issues Thursday morning in Lima, where they attended the swearing-in ceremony of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala.

It is the first meeting between both presidents after Bolivia announced last March that it wanted to sue Chile in international courts over its claim to a section of the Pacific coast that it lost in a war more than 130 years ago.

Morales said that a solution to the maritime dispute was beneficial for both countries, while Pinera said he was prepared to talk and always respected the active treaties.

"We talked with President Evo Morales, and Chile will always have the best dialogue and collaboration attitude with the Bolivian government and people, within the framework of respect to the active treaties, including the 1904 (Peace and Friendship Treaty) with Chile," Pinera said at a press conference after the meeting. "That treaty should be respected by both Bolivia and Chile," he said.

Pinera said that the talks had focused on the smuggling and drug trafficking problem. Moreover, he said he had told Morales that Chile was open to dialogue and looking for better ways to help Bolivia engage in commerce and obtain maritime access via Chilean ports.

Relations between both countries had been strained during the last five months.

On March 23, the Bolivian president changed the maritime policy and announced Bolivia would turn to international courts in a more than 100-year-old dispute with its neighbor Chile over access to the Pacific Ocean.

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