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March 2006
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Rice demonstrates depth of foreign policy

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Condoleezza Rice and Bolivian President Evo Morales met to discuss the drug war.
Now, you might think that this would be a big thing — after all, there are huge differences in policy. U.S. pushes for complete eradictaion, Morales wants to preserve coca growing, etc., and there have been significant tensions between the two countries.

On the plane en route to Chile Rice had stressed the importance of meeting with Morales.
“President Morales has said that he is also concerned about the security issues associated with the drug trade and so I think that gives us a good starting point for discussion,” Rice said.

So the two of them had this important discussion. So I’m wondering… was this a three-day summit? A packed full-day meeting?

Rice and Morales talked for about 15 minutes, discussing a shared problem: the illegal drugs trade. […]
Rice and Morales did not immediately comment publicly on their discussion.

15 minutes? You can’t have a discussion in 15 minutes. All you can do in 15 minutes is issue an ultimatum, or say “Hi.”
So what was the purpose? A photo-op? If so, Evo Morales won that one big time, with a skillful move that demonstrated that the United States’ drug policy is ridiculous, and that the U.S. government has no understanding of the cultural background of the countries with which it deals.

Morales, dressed in black leather embroidered with traditional motifs, presented Rice with an unusual gift that set the US delegation aback: a small, traditional guitar decorated with lacquered coca leaves.
Rice, an accomplished pianist, graciously accepted the five-string “charango” and strummed it for a few seconds.
But a member of the chief US diplomat’s delegation indicated the guitar may not pass through US Customs. Though the coca leaves are legal in Bolivia, they are forbidden in the US.

Makes the U.S. delegation look downright stupid.

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