Snowden row: Bolivia's leader threatens to close US embassy
Bolivia's president threatened on Thursday to close the US embassy as leftist Latin American leaders joined him in blasting Europe and the United States after his plane was rerouted amid suspicions US fugitive Edward Snowden was aboard.Updated: Jul 05, 2013 10:24 IST
Bolivia's president threatened on Thursday to close the US embassy as leftist Latin American leaders joined him in blasting Europe and the United States after his plane was rerouted amid suspicions US fugitive Edward Snowden was aboard.
President Evo Morales, who has suggested the United States pressured European nations to deny him their airspace, warned he would "study, if necessary, closing the US embassy in Bolivia."
"We don't need a US embassy in Bolivia," he said. "My hand would not shake to close the US embassy. We have dignity, sovereignty. Without the United States, we are better politically, democratically."
Morales arrived home late Wednesday after a long layover in Vienna, saying his plane was diverted there because it was barred from flying over four European nations, sparking outrage among Latin American leaders.
The Bolivian leader's air odyssey began hours after Morales declared in Moscow he would be willing to consider an asylum application from Snowden, who is seeking sanctuary in several Latin American nations to evade US espionage charges.
In a show of support, Presidents Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Cristina Kirchner of Argentina, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Jose Mujica of Uruguay and Desi Bouterse of Suriname met with Morales in the central city of Cochabamba.
At a rally before the meeting, Maduro claimed that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had ordered France, Portugal, Italy and Spain to deny access to Morales's plane on Tuesday.
"A minister of one of these European governments personally told us by telephone that they were going to apologize because they were surprised, and that those who gave the order to aviation authorities in this country ... were the CIA," he said.
After the meeting, the leaders issued a statement calling on the European governments to publicly apologize "in relation to the serious incidents that occurred," but Morales said earlier that apologies were not enough.
Correa said the leaders would "take decisions and show that we won't accept this sort of humiliation against any country of Latin America.