Chile quake looms over Hillary’s Latin America tour

Last Updated: Sunday, February 28, 2010 - 12:19

Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to leave Sunday for a tour of Latin America that is for now overshadowed by a massive earthquake in Chile, one of the five countries on her itinerary.
Analysts said Hillary’s trip is designed to revive the strong hopes President Barack Obama`s administration had initially raised in the region, but it was not immediately clear how much the quake would affect her tour.

Hillary spokesman Philip Crowley told said there was "no change at the moment" for her visit on Tuesday to Santiago where she is to meet Chile`s outgoing President Michelle Bachelet and president-elect Sebastian Pinera.

But he said officials would reassess the situation on Monday when the chief US diplomat is in Uruguay.

The quake, which Chilean authorities said has killed at least 300 people, comes six weeks after a massive temblor flattened the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and forced Hillary to call off an Asian tour when she was in Hawaii.

On January 17, she made a brief visit to Port-au-Prince airport to consult with Haitian President Rene Preval, five days after the quake struck and killed more than 200,000 people in the impoverished Caribbean country.

Hillary is due in Montevideo on Monday for Uruguay`s presidential inauguration of former leftist rebel Jose Mujica, an event analyst Michael Shifter said can be used to reinforce the US’ support for democracy in the region.

Uruguay typifies a trend in which the region wants to show independence, but not belligerence toward the United States, according to Shifter, a leading analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue think tank.

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First Published: Sunday, February 28, 2010 - 12:19

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