Secretary-General holds talks with Bolivia's politicians and indigenous leaders

Kofi Annan

13 November 2003 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is holding talks today with Bolivia's President, Cabinet, indigenous leaders and local UN staff during the final leg of his South American tour.

Mr. Annan met President Carlos Mesa this morning for talks in the capital, La Paz, ahead of a working lunch between the Secretary-General, the President and his Cabinet.

Later today Mr. Annan is slated to address Bolivia's National Congress and meet 30 indigenous leaders from across the landlocked country.

Tonight he will fly to Santa Cruz, where the Ibero-American Summit will be inaugurated tomorrow. Mr. Annan arrived in Bolivia last night after earlier travelling to Chile, Ecuador and Peru on this tour.

The Secretary-General received a welcoming ceremony in El Alto, the city where last month at least 70 anti-government demonstrators died during clashes with security forces.

He told the crowd that he knew recent weeks had not been easy for Bolivians, but he was pleased they had resolved their issues through constitutional means.

"To address the very serious social and economic problems confronting your country, it is important to work to strengthen your democratic institutions, while upholding the rule of law," he said.

Before he arrived in Bolivia last night, Mr. Annan spoke in Machu Picchu, Peru, of the enormous contributions of indigenous people to human civilizations.

Today Mr. Annan's wife Nane will visit a project in La Paz supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) that provides jobs for recovering drug addicts, alcoholics and victims of domestic violence.

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