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Bolivia and United States Sign Agreement with View toward Improving Difficult Relationship

By Dialogo
November 09, 2011

The United States and Bolivia took a first step toward improving relations upon signing a bi-national framework agreement based on “mutual respect” and expressed their desire to see a quick return of their ambassadors to the respective capitals.

The agreement “establishes a framework by which the two governments will pursue relations on the basis of mutual respect and shared responsibility,” a joint statement by both Governments indicated.

“We look forward to the early return of ambassadors to both Washington and La Paz and to a more productive, collaborative relationship for the benefit of both our peoples,” the statement asserted.

The agreement, following almost three years during which the two countries have remained without ambassadors, was signed in Washington, D.C., by U.S. Under Secretary for Global Affairs María Otero and Bolivian Vice Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Alurralde.

La Paz and Washington, D.C., have been negotiating this agreement since 2009, after President Evo Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and the representatives of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in late 2008, accusing them of supporting a supposed plot against him.

In retaliation, Washington, D.C., in turn expelled the Bolivian ambassador.

Relations between the two countries have remained in a constant state of upheaval since Morales, who has maintained a discourse critical of the U.S. Government, came to power in January 2006.

Nevertheless, Morales recently expressed his desire to improve relations.

The agreement establishes a bi-national commission and “working-level mechanisms to ensure the effective implementation” of the accord, the statement indicated.

The two countries stressed that the strengthening of the bilateral relationship will take place “with respect for sovereign states and their territorial integrity.”

The issues on which La Paz and Washington, D.C., want to develop closer ties are sustainable human, economic, social, and cultural development; the fight against drug trafficking; and the development of trade between the two countries.

The United States has maintained sporadic anti-drug collaboration with the Bolivian authorities, despite the DEA’s departure from the country, according to official sources.