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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 January 2006, 06:15 GMT
Morales in energy talks in Brazil
Evo Morales is welcomed by Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Evo Morales was keen to reassure Brazil over Bolivia's energy industry
Bolivia's President-elect Evo Morales has met his counterpart in Brazil for talks on his country's energy industry.

Speaking in Brasilia, Mr Morales told Brazil's President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva that Bolivia needed and would protect foreign investment.

He reaffirmed his commitment partially to nationalise Bolivia's gas industry - in which Brazil has a big stake - but said it would be done in consultation.

Mr Morales is on a whistle-stop world tour before taking office in a week.

During his election campaign, he stressed his keenness to increase state control over Bolivia's lucrative natural gas industry, to benefit the country's poor.

But while in Brazil, Mr Morales seemed keen to reassure investors that he would take a business-friendly approach to reform.

As well as two hours of talks with President Lula, Mr Morales also met the head of Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras.

A Bolivian indigenous shepherd in the highlands
Mr Morales is keen to use Bolivia's natural resources to help the poor

Speaking afterwards, Jose Sergio Gabrielli said he expected an excellent business climate under the new Bolivian government.

Petrobas is one of Bolivia's largest foreign investors, controlling 14% of the country's huge gas reserves.

Addressing a news conference in Brasilia, Mr Morales said: "As with any country, we have the right to manage our own resources.

"This doesn't mean expelling foreign companies or expropriating foreign property.

"Foreign companies have every right to recover investments and make profits, but profits should be balanced."

Vice President-elect Alvaro Garcia earlier said foreign oil companies would be welcome in Bolivia but would have to renegotiate their contracts with the government.

Mr Morales' world tour has also taken in Europe, China, South Africa and Venezuela.

An Aymara Indian from a poor region in the Bolivian highlands, he will become Bolivia's first indigenous leader in its 180-year history when he takes office on 22 January.




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