Clinton to Tour Latin American
Secretary of State Clinton left for Latin America Monday morning, as she aims to visit six countries to build support against Iran.
|Doug Mills | The New York Times|
Uruguay is the first stop on Clinton's six-country Latin American tour, which will include stops to seek support from Brazil for sanctions against Iran and show support for Chilean earthquake victims.
Uruguay has open communications with Washington, after former President George W. Bush visited in 2007, and Mujica's predecessor has expressed interest in a free trade pact with the U.S.
Clinton said she would stop in Santiago, Chile's capital, Tuesday morning. "We want to show America's support for the people of Chile while mindful of the realities on the ground," Clinton aide Philippe Reines said Sunday.
Clinton was scheduled to go to Chile late Monday for talks with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Pinera, who takes office March 11. But that meeting has been canceled as Chile attempts to recover from the quake.
Shell-shocked Chileans are dealing with the aftermath of a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake that tore through the southern half of the country early Saturday morning. The quake damaged roads, buildings, telecommunication services, and cut power. At least ten aftershocks hit the region in the hours after the initial quake – felt 2,000 miles away in Sao Paulo, Brazil – and waves that swelled more than six feet above their normal height battered the country's long coastline, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The United States is Chile's most prominent and largest trading partner, but has lost its footing in recent years to China, who does extremely well with Chilean copper exports.
Before the secretary left Washington on Sunday evening with a number of her aides in tow, she made notice that she would show U.S. support for any disaster rescue and recovery involvements throughout Chile.
While in Brazil, Secretary Clinton is expected to press President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to support more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Brazil is currently a voting member of the United Nations Security Council and has been somewhat averse to impose more punishment.
U.S. and Brazil have been at odds for some time now over the response to the coup in Honduras, and are engaged in a dispute at the World Trade Organization over U.S. cotton subsidies.
Clinton's February 28 through March 5 trip wraps up with stops in Guatemala and Costa Rica.