U.S.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was greeted by a standing honor guard of Uruguay upon landing there on the first stop of her diplomatic tour of Latin America. Ms. Clinton attended the inauguration of Uruguayan President-elect Jose’ Mujica, who served as a senator before his election. Mrs. Clinton’s tour then preceeded to earthquake striken Chile’, where she met with outgoing President Michelle Bachelet, and also with the President-elect Sebastian Pinera. The Secretary of State expressed the official condolences of the American government and its people regarding the tragic devastation caused by the deadly earthquake that struck only days earlier. Mrs. Clinton brought communications equipment, and the pledge of monetery aid in lieu of the extensive damages caused by the earthquake deemed to be the fifth strongest ever to occur since the turn of the century.
Mrs. Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. position on Iran, seeking to garner support for the application of sanctions on Iraq, as well as the discussion of trade and other issues. In Brazil, she conferred with President Luis Inacio Lula de Silva, and Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Celso Amorim, who expressed the hesitance of Brazil to endorse sanctions on Iran. President Lula is scheduled to visit Tehran in May reciprocating the visit made by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinajad in 2009. The two nations have boosted trade relations between them with promises future cooperaion. Mrs. Clinton was hosted by Argentine President Christina Kirchner in Buenos Aires, and in Costa Rica by outgoing President Oscar Arias, and also President -elect Chinchilla. The final stop in the Secretary’s Latin American tour was a meeting in Guatemala of 16 Central American and Caribbean nations where she addressed the promotion of democracy and trade policies, and unity among the North American countries.