LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales left Tuesday on a tour that will take him to Moscow and Beijing for meetings with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.
Morales said in a short speech that the trip, which was “prepared a long time in advance,” aims to close trade and investment deals with Russia and China.
He also said that the tour is in keeping with his government’s objective of tightening relations with other countries and international entities, aiming to project a “new image” of Bolivia to the world.
Bolivia and Russia have become close in recent years due to the two countries’ mutual interest in collaborating in terms of energy, arms and non-military nuclear energy.
The president’s visit to the Russian capital comes amid criticism by the Bolivian opposition, who suspect that Morales – who is a big soccer fan – will attend the World Cup opening ceremony on Thursday, despite the fact that the country’s national team will not be contending.
After Moscow, the Bolivian president is set to travel to The Hague to take part in preparatory meetings regarding Bolivia’s answer to a suit brought against it by Chile before the International Court of Justice.
The tour will end June 19-20 in China, another one of Bolivia’s strategic partners, where Morales hopes to close trade deals on several Bolivian exports, such as quinoa, coffee, chestnuts, beef and soybeans.