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‘Iran always welcome in Bolivia’: Arce urges closer Tehran-La Paz ties

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Bolivian President Luis Arce (C) and Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta (L) talk with Iran's Ambassador Morteza Tafreshi, during the credentials ceremony in La Paz, on November 11, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Bolivia’s new President Luis Arce says Iranians are “always welcome” in the Latin American country, and that the two sides will keep strengthening cooperation, as he moves to repair the foreign relations damaged by the former interim government.

In a post on his Twitter Account on Wednesday, Arce said his government had received the credentials of the Iranian ambassador to La Paz, Morteza Tafreshi.

“They are always welcome in Bolivia. We will continue to reinforce common projects for the benefit of our peoples,” he added.

The Bolivian head of state highlighted the importance of ties with Iran, urging enhanced cooperation with the Islamic Republic in various fields such as energy, industry, medicine, and science.

In turn, Tafreshi voiced Tehran’s readiness to expand relations with La Paz and provide any support to Bolivia.

In an earlier tweet, Arce said that he had received the credentials of Venezuela’s ambassador and that he was restoring bilateral relations with Caracas “to strengthen strategic ties for the good of our peoples.”

Meanwhile, the Bolivian government said in a statement that it wanted to “reestablish diplomatic relations damaged by the previous de-facto government” led by conservative interim president Jeanine Anez.

Arce, of the left-wing Movement for Socialism party (MAS), was sworn in as Bolivia’s new president during a ceremony on Sunday, with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, in attendance.

Arce served as economy minister for a dozen years under ex-president Evo Morales, who was forced to resign in November 2019 under pressure from the military and following the opposition's challenging of the victory that he had secured in presidential polls.

Morales said back then that he was the victim of an orchestrated coup. He sought exile in Mexico and then moved to Argentina.

The former president returned to Bolivia on Monday and was welcomed by tens of thousands of jubilant followers in the town of Chimore on Wednesday.

“We knew we were not alone. We knew we would return,” Morales told the crowd, who chanted, “Evo, Evo, Evo.”

Under Morales, Venezuela and Iran were key allies of Bolivia, but the policy changed after Anez took power last November.

She expelled Venezuelan diplomats and Cuban doctors, accusing them of fomenting unrest following Morales’ departure.

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