Bolivian President Evo Morales seeks to reestablish diplomatic ties with the United States. Sean Carberry reports
Bolivian President Evo Morales has been a fierce critic of the U.S. The leftist leader has also battled with the Catholic Church, which has accused Morales of being an autocrat. But, after Pope Francis' visit, Morales told Reuters he and the church share many causes. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT, EVO MORALES, SAYING: "I am convinced after hearing Pope Francis's message yesterday, a message that was recorded on my hard disk, that the Church must serve evangelicals, the common good, and our collective house, the Earth. We agree on issues such as capitalism, Mother Earth and wealth distribution. We are sure that our institutional relations will improve with the Bolivian Episcopal Conference," The pontiff praised Bolivia's social reforms. Morales expressed admiration for the pope's promotion of peace and dialogue in order to overcome political hostilities. The Bolivian president hopes to restore diplomatic ties with the U.S. that were severed in 2008 when Bolivia accused Washington of conspiring to overthrow the government. Morales has asked for a meeting with President Barack Obama, but has yet to get a response. But, in the Reuters interview, Morales only gave credit to the Pope and Cuba for the thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations . (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BOLIVIAN PRESIDENT, EVO MORALES, SAYING: "We salute and admire the Pope's gestures to re-establish diplomatic relations. Cuba was in the right, it held the truth. Fortunately, after more than 50 years the moment came to re-establish diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US. It is no concession of Obama's but the triumph of the Cuban people and the world as a whole," Morales presented Francis with gifts on the Pope's arrival to Bolivia, including a hammer-and-sickle crucifix in honor of a Jesuit priest who was killed by Bolivian paramilitaries in 1980.