June 30, 2008 / 10:28 PM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 1-Peru recalls Bolivian ambassador over US comments

(Adds U.S. reaction, paragraphs 4-5)

LIMA, June 30 (Reuters) - Peru recalled its ambassador from Bolivia after leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales accused Peru of having a secret U.S. military base and urged Peruvians to rise up against it, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

Tensions between the neighbors have been running high since Peru signed a free-trade agreement with the United States late last year.

Bolivia has denounced the accord and urged the Andean community, which includes Colombia and Ecuador, to do the same. Peru and Colombia are strong U.S. allies and sharply disagree with Morales on trade issues.

Ecuador leans to the left, particularly on trade, and its president, Rafael Correa, has opposed renewing a lease that allows U.S. troops to use the Manta air base. The lease on the base in Ecuador, used for anti-drug operations, runs out in 2009.

The United States has no plans to establish a military base south of Ecuador in Peru, though it does help Peru’s army with infrastructure improvement and conducts humanitarian programs in the country, a State Department official said on Monday.

The U.S. Congress approved the trade pact with Peru last year. A deal with Colombia is pending, as is another free trade agreement with Panama.

Peru’s foreign ministry said it called ambassador Fernando Rojas to Lima to “evaluate the sum of Peruvian-Bolivian relations” following what it called interference by Morales.

Morales, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, one of the regions’s fiercest critics of U.S. policies in Latin America, made the comments during a speech on Saturday, Peru said. (Reporting by Terry Wade and Marco Aquino in Lima and Adriana Garcia in Washington; Writing by Dana Ford)

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