07:08 GMT05 December 2020
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    LA PAZ (Sputnik) - Bolivia will restore its relations with Russia after the decline during the rule of the previous government, which came to power as a result of a coup, new President Luis Arce said in an interview with Sputnik.

    "I believe that Bolivia's relations with Russia deteriorated in the past 11 months due to the presence of the de facto government, which came to power thanks to a coup and which did not understand what is really behind the relations of our countries ... This is why as soon as we rise to power we will restore the relations, just come back and continue what was being done. There were many projects, we had nuclear energy there, we had export projects. We are going to restore it all with the government of [Russian] President Vladimir Putin," Arce said.

    He added that he would like to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin as soon as possible.

    "I would very much like to hold a personal meeting with President Putin at the United Nations or anywhere else in order to have a chance to exchange opinions and discuss the issues that both countries are interested in," Arce said.

    He went on to say that Bolivia wants to supply more food items to Russia.

    "We want to export to Russia not only meat, but we also have a great potential for such products as quinoa, a lot of Andean and Amazonian products with which we want to come to Russia. Fruits are very important products for food diversification in Russia," Arce explained.

    In September, Bolivia received an authorisation to deliver beef to Russia. The country also has the right to export meat to Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

    Possible Areas For Partnership

    According to Arce, Bolivia is interested in Russia's agro-industrial and communications technologies and also seeks cooperation on gas and metallurgy.

    "Gas has always been a sector [of strategic cooperation], we are aware of Russia's potential in this area, and we also want ... to exchange technologies ... for example, agro-industrial and communications technologies and other technologies that Russia can provide," Arce said.

    The president also noted that Bolivia would like to cooperate with Russia on the metal industry, noting that his country was only making its first steps in this sector.

    Bolivia will be ready to discuss defence cooperation with Russia after tackling the economic problems, Arce added.

    "We are facing serious economic problems, we will prioritize resources that will bail Bolivia out of the economic crisis. Later, of course, we may enter such negotiations," the president said.

    In 2019, then-Bolivian President Evo Morales said that the country was interested in purchasing Russian weapons and was looking into the possibility to replace US T-33 jet trainers with some Russian planes.

    Nuclear Energy Cooperation

    Bolivia will accomplish the construction of the nuclear research and technology facility jointly with Russian nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, President Arce said.

    A Rosatom subsidiary and the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency signed in 2017 a contract for building a nuclear research and technology centre in Bolivia's El Alto. The construction of the facility was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, Russian Ambassador to Bolivia Vladimir Sprinchan said back in June, also noting that the research centre is expected to open in 2023 as scheduled.

    "We have to finish it, we will have to put it into operation and we want to get technical support from Russia to be able to expand, to undertake researches on the issue here, in Bolivia," Arce said.

    Will Bolivia Buy Russia's COVID-19 Vaccine?

    Bolivia plans to purchase Russia's coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, President Luis Arce said in an interview with Sputnik.

    "Yes, of course. I understand that the vaccine is not for sale yet, but I think it has been already discussed that Bolivia has become one of the first countries that could have it," Arce said.

    Bolivia seeks acquiring the vaccine not for trials but for immunization of its population, the president specified.

    Bolivia's President-elect Luis Arce gestures during a celebration after he won the presidential election, in El Alto, outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia, October 24, 2020. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
    © REUTERS / UESLEI MARCELINO
    Bolivia's President-elect Luis Arce gestures during a celebration after he won the presidential election, in El Alto, outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia, October 24, 2020. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

    Luis Arce secured victory in the presidential election held on 18 October. The vote was organised after the abrogation of the results of the presidential election held on 20 October 2019. Back then, Bolivia's top electoral authority declared that then-President Evo Morales was re-elected to the post. However, his key contender, Carlos Mesa, refused to recognise the results of the vote. After three weeks of nationwide protests, Morales stepped down and left the country. Senior lawmaker Jeanine Anez became interim president.

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