Bolivia to Seek Aid in Drug War

Bolivian President Evo Morales will seek Russia's help in fighting drugs in Bolivia this week, saying the United States has stopped supporting efforts to eradicate illegal coca plants.

Morales told reporters on Friday that he would discuss the immediate purchase of helicopters and loans of other aircraft to fight coca production when he visits Russia.

"However, there will be a private meeting with the Russian president before signing any agreement," Morales said, Itar-Tass reported. "We need to decide for sure how and in what periods of time we can move forward."

Morales was to arrive in Moscow on Sunday and meet with President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday.

Morales also will sign a $3 billion deal with Gazprom, Bolivian Deputy Energy Minister William Donaire said Feb. 4. The pact covers development of Bolivia's natural gas industry, creation of a regional gas institute and updates to an earlier deal that also involves France's Total, Donaire said.

On Tuesday, Morales will be awarded an honorary doctorate.

Bolivia is the third-largest producer of illegal coca, the main ingredient for cocaine, after Colombia and Peru. Coca leaves also have traditional and religious uses in Bolivia.

Morales on Friday accused Washington of violating international conventions on the "shared responsibility" in the drug war.

(AP, MT)