11 January 2006
The top U.S. official for Latin America says the United States wants to enter into a dialogue with incoming Bolivian president Evo Morales to maintain, the quote - "extremely positive" relationship between the two countries.
Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, made the remark during a visit to Brazil Tuesday. He told reporters Bolivia has long cooperated with the United States on efforts to reduce cocaine production and that Washington is looking for ways to continue that process. Mr. Morales has vowed to reverse the U.S.-backed campaign to eradicate coca, the main ingredient in cocaine.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Tuesday said he is sure the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia is starting to conspire against Mr. Morales, but gave no specifics.
Brian Penn, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Caracas, told the Associated Press the United States categorically denies any suggestion it wants anything but a productive relationship with Bolivia's new government.