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Landlocked Bolivia eyes port after deal with Peru

Reuters | Tue Oct 19, 2010

Landlocked Bolivia eyes port after deal with Peru

 Deal paves the way for Bolivia to build port in Peru
 President says port would ease flow of Bolivian exports

By Enrique Castro-Mendivil

ILO, Peru, Oct 19 (Reuters) — Bolivian President Evo Morales said a deal signed with neighboring Peru on Tuesday over access to the Pacific Ocean could pave the way for his poor, landlocked nation to build a port on the Peruvian coast.

Morales and his Peruvian counterpart Alan Garcia signed the accord in the southern Peruvian port of Ilo, expanding a 1992 pact that ceded a plot of land on Peru’s coastline to Bolivia.

The deal expands the area in which the Bolivian state can build export and import facilities by nearly 80 percent to 3.58 square kilometers (1.38 square miles). It also allows Bolivian Navy ships to dock.

"This opens the door for Bolivians to have an international port, to the use of the ocean for global trade and for Bolivian products to have better access to global markets," Morales said after signing the agreement.

Bolivia is a significant producer of metals including zinc, tin and silver, and exports most of its minerals through neighboring Chile.

In the 19th century, Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific, leaving Bolivia landlocked and allowing Chile to seize control of mineral-rich land that belonged to Peru.

The three countries have been squabbling over their borders since then. Peru filed a lawsuit in 2008 against Chile at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, disputing its maritime territorial rights.

Tuesday’s agreement also paves the way for cooperation between the naval forces of Peru and Bolivia, permitting Bolivia to operate an annex of its naval school at the port.

"We are interested in strengthening South America and ... Peru will never be an obstacle in the bilateral talks [between Chile and Bolivia] that would allow Bolivia to regain sovereign access to the sea," Garcia said.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Velez; Writing by Emily Schmall and Eduardo Garcia; editing by Jim Marshall)

 source: Reuters