Chile's U.S. ambassador leaving to focus on legal fight with Bolivia

Sept. 17, 2013 at 6:42 PM

SANTIAGO, Chile, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Chile's ambassador to the United States is resigning to focus on representing Chile in a dispute with Bolivia over access to the Pacific, officials say.

Felipe Bulnes will remain in Washington through the end of the year, The Santiago Times reported Monday. When he leaves his position as ambassador in January, he will represent Chile before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

Bolivia contends it signed the 1904 Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Chile under duress. The country had lost its Pacific seaboard to Chile in a war about 20 years earlier, leaving it completely land-locked.

Bulnes remained the ambassador after President Sebastian Pinera appointed him last May to lead the legal team defending Chile. But Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno said Bulnes will need to devote more energy to the case.

"He has to represent Chile, he needs to lead the teams of lawyers, experts, scholars, historians that are already working," Moreno told Radio Bio Bio.

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