Thomas Shannon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs arrived in Bolivia yesterday to meet with President Evo Morales and his foreign minister, David Choquehuanca. This visit follows an agreement made at the Summit of the Americas between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mr. Choquehuanca to reduce tensions and increase dialogue between the two nations.
The Bolivian foreign minister said that he hoped the visit would “correct the injustices of the past,” and Shannon expressed the need to “improve our cooperation in a way that benefits both countries” and to “take a new direction in our bilateral relations." President Morales has said that he is optimistic that relations would improve under the new Obama administration.
Under the Bush administration, trade preferences to Bolivia were suspended, and the U.S. has frequently stated its concern over coca leaf production in Bolivia. Last year, amid escalating tensions, Bolivia expelled the U.S. diplomatic envoy and suspended its cooperation with U.S. drug enforcement agents.