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Brazilian Energy Officials Agree to Negotiate Transfer of Assets to Bolivia

Brazilian energy officials say they accept Bolivia's decision to nationalize its natural gas industry, and will negotiate the transfer of Brazilian-owned facilities to Bolivian control.

Energy officials from the two countries met in the Bolivian capital, La Paz, Wednesday. After the meeting, the Brazilian delegation said it has "absolute respect" for the sovereign decisions of the Bolivian government.

The two sides agreed that Brazil's state-owned energy company Petrobras will negotiate new contracts for continuing its operations in Bolivia as a minority shareholder. They will also discuss Bolivia's proposal to raise the price of gas supplied to the Brazilian market.

Bolivian President Evo Morales ordered the takeover of foreign-owned natural gas installations on May 1. He said foreign companies must transfer majority control of their assets to Bolivia within half a year or leave the country.

Bolivia appointed directors Wednesday to sit on the boards of five foreign energy companies with facilities in the country.

The new directors represent Bolivia's state-owned energy company, Y.P.F.B. (Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos), which the government says will eventually manage all Bolivian energy production.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.