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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peru's Humala backs Bolivia's coastal claim

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said he supports Bolivia's "legitimate" demand for Chile to grant it access to the Pacific coast, a long-held claim the landlocked Andean country plans to take to international courts in 2012.

The comments will likely aggravate relations between Chile and Peru, which has sued its neighbor in the International Court of Justice at The Hague over their disputed maritime border and access to rich fisheries.

"We've discussed our position to support the legitimate claim from our brothers in Bolivia to have their outlet to the sea," Humala said at a news conference with Bolivian President Evo Morales after a meeting in the Andean city of Cusco.

The statement was Humala's first substantive comment on the issue since he took office in July.

Morales has said Bolivia will present its own maritime claim early next year to the court in The Hague, provoking an icy response from Chile.

Bolivia lost its access to the sea after a war with Chile in 1879, when Peru also surrendered part of its copper-rich territory to its southern neighbor.

Peru's former President Alan Garcia signed an agreement with Morales in 2010 so Bolivia, a metals exporter and South America's poorest country, could build a port on Peru's coast and access global trade routes. Peru's Congress still needs to approve the deal.

"We welcome the words of support from the Peruvian people, national authorities, and almost all South American countries," Morales said. "We must compensate these historical wrongs."

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Tags:  ollanta humala  peru  bolivia  chile  





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