Analysts in Chile are speculating that the recent White House nomination of Paul E. Simons as United States ambassador to Chile, replacing Craig Kelly, indicates the U.S. is giving special importance to Latin America's energy politics.
Simons is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Energy, Sanctions, and Commodities. He has a Bachelor in Philosophy from Yale University and a Masters in Finance from New York University and is touted as an international energy expert. He represents the U.S. on the Governing Board of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and chairs the Standing Group on Long Term Cooperation, the IEA's leading energy policy analysis forum. Additionally, he speaks fluent Spanish and French. Still, Simons' experience in government and Foreign Service is varied. He previously worked with Peru, Bolivia and Columbia in administering the 750 million US dollars Andean Counter-narcotics Initiative. As Undersecretary of State for Drug Trafficking he advised the Mexican and Colombian governments on border security, and earlier worked in the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, as Deputy Chief of Mission. Latin America's energy politics are important to the U.S., and U.S. officials are expected to follow developments in the Chilean gas and electricity sectors closely. U.S. officials have already suggested one alternative way of satisfying Chilean energy needs: nuclear power. Nicholas Burns, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in Washington, stated after a recent meeting with Chilean officials that the U.S. government is prepared to help Chile explore nuclear power and is willing to take an active role in promoting nuclear cooperation between Chile and the U.S. The Santiago Times