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Chile, Bolivia sign first agreement on military exchanges
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-12-05 14:33
Chile and Bolivia on Tuesday signed a collaboration plan to boost their military exchanges, the first of its kind.

The plan, signed by Chilean Defense Minister Jose Goni and his Bolivian counterpart Walker San Miguel, will strengthen their military academic exchanges and give more transparency to their peacekeeping and military expenditure.

The agreement is part of the two governments' confidence building strategy designed to seek progress on a 13-point agenda agreed by the two countries' presidents.

"Bolivia has long sought its own coastline, but we are aware, speaking clearly and frankly, that it is not possible without a confidence building process first," said San Miguel.

"Our armed forces have been tasked to start the thawing of our relationship," said Goni.

Goni also praised the exchanges between the two armies' senior officials in 2007, saying this year has witnessed more progressive gestures and actions than in the last 30 years.

Bolivia is seeking a land corridor crossing the Chilean port city of Arica for access to the Pacific Ocean after the former lost 120 square km of territory and 400 km of coastline in the three-way 1879-1884 War of the Pacific, when Chile won the war against Peru and Bolivia and took land from both of its rivals.

Bolivia and Chile broke off full diplomatic ties in 1978 over disputes about the issue, and they have not officially discussed the issue since 1987, when foreign ministers from both countries met in Uruguay but failed to reach an agreement.

Despite some progress, San Miguel said the coastline issue remains unresolved, saying "the pace of diplomacy is not always what we would wish."

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