United States president described his Chilean peer Michelle Bachelet as “one of the most compelling leaders” of Latinamerica and together with Brazil’s Lula da Silva they are an “example” of the kind of relations Washington wants with the region.
“I find her one of the most compelling leaders that we have, not just in the hemisphere but around the world”, said President Barack Obama during the press conference Tuesday afternoon with Ms Bachelet following her first official visit to the White House
“I look to President Bachelet for good advice and good counsel in terms of how the United States can continue to build a strong relationship with all of Latin America, and I think the good progress that we began to make at the Summit of the Americas can be built on with some very concrete steps in the months and years to come”, said president Obama.
“We consider Chile to be one of our most important partners in that process. And so I expect that in the months to come we’ll be working very closely together”.
President Bachele praised President Obama’s administration for “understanding the world, its challenges, and how to build relations with all countries of Latinamerica. We feel very close to this approach”.
“Everybody in Chile was very enthusiastic about today’s meeting with President Obama. And that is because of real reasons, because we understand that the way you are developing your leadership is one who inspire us and makes us feel very comfortable and very confident, too”, added the Chilean president.
Even though the US and Chile can have foreign-policy differences, Obama said, there is a high level of cooperation between the two countries on issues such as trade and cancer research. “It’s a respectful relationship,” he said and a cooperation “which is a model and I would like to see with the rest of the region”.
Obama added that Brazil, like Chile, “is leading by example.” Brazil’s president, Lula da Silva offers an example of someone who — on paper -- may seem difficult to work with, he said.
“President Lula da Silva came up through the trade union movement union, he was perceived as a strong leftist. Turns out, he was a very practical person who maintains relationships across the political spectrum in Latin America and has instituted all sorts of market reforms that have made Brazil prosperous”.
That points the way for other countries where the Democratic tradition is not as embedded as we would like it to be: respect for property rights, rule of law, all those things can lead to greater prosperity.”
President Obama also underscored that the US could learn a “good lesson” from the way Chile has managed its finances and the world crisis.
“I think Chile is to be congratulated on having managed their economy and their fiscal surpluses during good times in such a way that they have now been able to manage the bad times in a good way. And I think that it’s an example for all of us that good fiscal policy, good economic policy, ultimately allows for prosperity through good times and bad times”.
President Obama also side tracked a question from the Chilean press when he was asked if he wanted to apologize for CIA involvement in Chilean elections.
I'm interesting in going forward, not looking backward said Obama. I think that the United States has been an enormous force for good in the world.
I think there have been times where we've made mistakes, but I think that what is important is looking at what our policies are today and what my administration intends to do in cooperating with the region,” added Mr. Obama.