Bolivia and Russia strengthen ties with lithium and gas agreements | International

Bolivian Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta welcomes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Moscow this Friday.POOL (Reuters)

The first official visit to Moscow by Bolivian Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta was successful. His meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underscored Russia’s interest in increasing its weight in the Latin American market, and diplomats discussed a range of new projects ranging from lithium mining to use. nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Separately, the two ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation against the coronavirus, where the supply of the Sputnik V vaccine was another diplomatic success for Moscow to expand its influence on the continent and diversify its exports.

“The Plurinational State of Bolivia is one of Russia’s priority partners in the Latin America and the Caribbean region,” Lavrov said. The Russian Foreign Minister stressed that the ties between the two countries “have strengthened considerably in recent months” and that their presidents have spoken by phone up to three times since Luis Arce came to power in November 2020 Russian Foreign Spokeswoman María Zajárova also stressed that Bolivia is “one of the priority partners” of the Kremlin and that Rogelio Mayta’s visit aims to bring bilateral cooperation “to a qualitative level. superior “.

The meeting had a clearly economic key. “We have a mutual interest in increasing and diversifying trade with big investment projects,” Lavrov added. This will be done by the end of the year by the intergovernmental commission for commercial and scientific cooperation.

Among the most interested companies is Gazprom, which has been present in the Bolivian Incahuasi field for five years and which has reserves estimated at 70.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Likewise, the Russian gas company has also revealed that it will go to public tender for direct extraction of lithium, a key resource for building batteries for future clean energy and of which Bolivia has the most. large reserves of the planet.

The interest of the gas company is joined by that of the Russian state atomic consortium Rosatom, whose nuclear research center in the city of El Alto is in the final phase of construction. “In addition, Rosatom has proposed other areas of cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy for medical, industrial and agricultural purposes,” added the Russian Foreign Minister.

To these projects was added the interest of other companies to invest in Bolivia, such as the Russian railways, and Russia’s great export asset with the pandemic: the Sputnik V vaccine. Bolivia has received up to ‘now nearly 2.5 million doses and the two ministries have agreed to “further develop cooperation in the fight against the virus”. Mayta highlighted the support offered by the Russian alternative against the pandemic. “In this complicated period of pandemic, the first country with which we were able to subscribe to the possibility of having vaccines against covid-19 was Russia”, recalled the minister.

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In addition to the economy, the two ministers discussed the international political plan. Mayta conveyed a message to Lavrov from President Luis Arce to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and senior diplomats from both countries agreed they had “identical positions” and should “strengthen foreign policy coordination.”

One of the tools they spoke to was the newly formed Group of Friends in Defense of the United Nations Charter, which held its first meeting in Caracas at the end of September with representatives of its 18 member countries, including Syria. , China, Belarus and Korea. North, Cuba, Iran and Palestine, with the exception of Bolivia and Russia. Mayta stressed that his country is “pacifist”, while Lavrov advocated “the democratization of international relations on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations” and for “respect for international law and non-interference in internal affairs” .

Likewise, the two ministers considered it important to consolidate regional integration processes. To this end, they advocated “a platform as authoritarian as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)”. Next comes Russia’s interest in having more weight in the region, as Lavrov himself acknowledged: “We looked at ways to achieve greater rapprochement between Russia and the multilateral platforms in the region. Not so long ago, we were extraregional observers of the Central American Integration System (SICA), and now we are developing our relations with Caricom, Mercosur and other structures ”.

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