Bolivia seeks to rebuild strained ties with US

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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LA PAZ, Bolivia —  Bolivia wants to rebuild strained relations with the United States and hopes to exchange ambassadors with the new U.S. administration soon, the South American nation's foreign minister said Wednesday.

David Choquehuanca said Bolivia will present President Barack Obama with an agenda, including plans for a trade deal that he said was rejected by George W. Bush's government.

"We want to rebuild our relations with the U.S., and we know that they want a positive relationship too," Choquehuanca told reporters, saying his country would wait until the new U.S. president was settled in office before pressing the issue.

He said the Obama administration had congratulated leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales on voters' approval Sunday of a new constitution, which Morales had made the central platform of his presidency.

That message was "a good sign" of improving relations, Choquehuanca added.

U.S.-Bolivian ties have been tense since last year when President Evo Morales expelled U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and several U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents, accusing them of interfering in Bolivian affairs.

Washington denied the charges and in turn expelled Bolivia's ambassador and separately suspended tariff preferences that Bolivia had enjoyed for nearly 20 years.

Choquehuanca said he hoped Bolivia would soon send its ambassador back to the U.S. and welcome an ambassador from Washington _ though he gave no date.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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