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Bolivia's Arce hopes to mend ties with Brazil as Lula takes office

Cuba commemorates the 18th anniversary of the creation of ALBA-TCP

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia's President Luis Arce said on Monday he hopes Brazil's new president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will help improve diplomatic relations and explain issues that generated controversy during former President Jair Bolsonaro's mandate.

Speaking on television late Monday, Arce said he expected Lula, who took office for the third time on Sunday, would help explain gas contracts between the countries that Bolivian politicians have called detrimental, as well as Bolsonaro's "behavior" during a political crisis in Bolivia in 2019.

"There are many things that need an explanation from the Brazilian government," Arce told broadcaster Telesur.

"With this new relationship, we hope that all this information that is being investigated in Bolivia can flow from Brazil," he said.

Arce pointed to the supposed support of far-right politician Bolsonaro for the resignation of former leftist president Evo Morales in 2019. Morales' supporters called the event a coup d'etat, and Bolivia is now facing protests following the arrest of an opposition governor in connection with the incident.

As Morales left government, Bolsonaro tweeted "a great day".

Like Lula, Morales had formed part of a wave of leftists who dominated Latin American politics at the start of the century.

Regarding natural gas contracts, Arce's government said in May Bolivia was seeking higher prices for natural gas sold to Brazil's Petrobras, claiming current contracts with the state-run oil company generated steep losses.

Lula took office promising to "mend" diplomatic relations.

(Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Christopher Cushing)