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Repsol to boost investments in Bolivia

MADRID, Sep 16 – Spanish oil major Repsol YPF plans to boost its investments in Bolivia, Bolivian President Evo Morales said Tuesday during a visit to Spain.

Speaking at a news conference following talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Morales said Repsol president Antonio Brufau "has decided to step up investments, he will soon visit Bolivia.

"He will strike new deals, develop new timetables for investments in deposits," added Morales, who met top Repsol officials including Brufau on Monday.

Morales said his country\’s relations with Spanish energy companies were excellent following a period of "distrust" and "uncertainty" after he nationalized Bolivia\’s hydrocarbons sector in 2006.

Addressing business leaders in Madrid on Monday, he said Bolivia is looking for "partners" and not "owners" for its natural resources, including its vast reserves of lithium.

Bolivia has about 49 percent of the world’s reserves of lithium, which is used to produce batteries for electric or hybrid cars, according to a US Geological Survey report.

It also holds the second-largest natural gas reserves in South America, after Venezuela.

Zapatero said Spain expects that "economic relations with Spanish firms which operate in Bolivia are based on the principle of security and a legal framework which offers guarantees of a permanent dialogue with the Bolivian government.

"Spanish firms in Bolivia are also there to contribute to Bolivia\’s development," he added.

Morales has met King Juan Carlos as well as parliamentary group leaders since arriving in Spain on Sunday.

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Bolivia marks the bicentennial of its independence from Spain this year.

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