A meeting with George Bush does not currently feature on Evo Morales’s upcoming trip that takes in the US and appointments with former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
But, speaking on Monday, he said: “If he asks me, I would like to [meet up] to tell him some truths about human rights, about social and economic problems, and [I would like to tell him] that aggressions feed rebellion, and share with him some experiences.”
Morales has had a tense relationship with Washington since coming to power in January which, along with his close relationship with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, may explain why the former coca leaf grower has yet to receive an invitation from Bush to meet up.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president has dismissed US criticism of the cocaine trade in Bolivia and fiercely opposed US-backed coca eradication plans, which he thinks pushes Bolivians deeper into poverty.
“If he asks me, I would like to [meet up] to tell him some truths about human rights, about social and economic problems, and [I would like to tell him] that aggressions feed rebellion, and share with him some experiences”
Evo Morales, Bolivian president
Coca is the raw material used to make cocaine, but it is also used widely by Bolivians for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Morales’s government has suggested that coca should be de-criminalised worldwide.
Despite Morales’s frequent anti-Washington remarks, government officials have said that they wish to have a constructive relationship with the US on issues such as drug trafficking and trade.
Morales begins a three-country tour on Tuesday, when he will visit Guatemala to meet with Oscar Berger, the president, and participate in a summit of Latin American indigenous people.
He will then travel to Cuba, where he is likely to meet up with the convalescing Cuban leader Fidel Castro before attending the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit of 116 developing countries in Havana.
During his visit to the US between September 17 and 21 Morales will attend the United Nations general assembly in New York.