Bolivian President Evo Morales has rejected calls by coca growers to expel U.S. drug agents, saying the Americans can stay in the country as long as they respect its laws.
President Morales said during a military ceremony in La Paz Wednesday that everyone has the right to be in Bolivia if they respect its national sovereignty and dignity. He said it is important to have international friendships.
The coca growers issued their call at a federation meeting Tuesday in Cochabamba, in which Mr. Morales was re-elected head of Bolivia's largest coca farmers union.
Word of the request to expel the U.S. agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration prompted the U.S. Embassy in La Paz to call off a scheduled meeting with Bolivian anti-narcotics officials.
A former coca farmer, Mr. Morales campaigned on promises to reverse a U.S.-backed campaign to eradicate coca, the main ingredient in cocaine. He has proclaimed opposition to illicit drug trafficking.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.