February 23, 2018
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Brazilian and Bolivian presidents meet to discuss LatAm integration

Brasilia, Dec 5 (efe-epa).- Brazilian President Michel Temer received Tuesday with military honors his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, with whom he will discuss various plans for integration, including a railroad connection of great regional importance.

Morales, the first leader of the so-called Bolivarian axis to visit Brazil since the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, who has been replaced by Temer since May of last year, arrived at the Brazilian capital Monday night and on Tuesday went to the Planalto presidential palace.

The honor guard of the Brazilian presidency passed in review before the Bolivian president, after which Temer greeted him with a handshake at the top of a ramp leading to the first floor of the palace.

The presidents then went to Temer's office, where they were to meet in private for a time, then joined by ministers of both governments.

Their agenda includes talks about a close energy relationship between Bolivia and Brazil, the chief consumer of natural gas from the Andean country, and a project for constructing a railroad between the ports of Santos on Brazil's Atlantic coast and Ilo on the Peruvian Pacific coast, and which will run across Bolivian territory.

A second phase of the Central Bioceanic Railroad Corridor, as it is called, also aims to connect it with Paraguay and Argentina, and is one of the many integration projects sponsored by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), an organization whose one-year presidency will be held by Bolivia starting next April.

After their meeting, Temer and Morales will preside over an event at which a number of bilateral accords will be signed, and then move on to the Brazilian Foreign Ministry in Itamaraty Palace, where there will be a lunch for the Bolivian delegation.

The program of Morales's state visit to Brazil does not include an opportunity for making public statements, except at the toast before the lunch, after which the Bolivian president is scheduled to return to his country.

Brazilian officials told EFE that what is "most important about this visit will be the political message" implicit in the mere fact of the meeting between two leaders with radical ideological differences.

"Morales's visit shows that the relationship between Brazil and Bolivia is between countries and is not affected by ideology, and that despite such differences, it is possible to work together toward integration," a Brazilian diplomat said.

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