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Test for “new US policy”: Chile’s Bachelet meets President Obama

Monday, June 22nd 2009 - 07:59 UTC
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The two presidents will address bilateral and hemispheric relations. The two presidents will address bilateral and hemispheric relations.

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet begins on Tuesday an official two-day visit to the United States where she will be meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, members of Congress and the Organization of American States Secretary General.

“Chile is a close friend and partner of the United States and President Obama looks forward to discussing ways in which the two countries can strengthen the bilateral relationship and cooperation on hemispheric and global challenges”, said a brief release from the White House in anticipation of the visit.

Both presidents will discuss “issues of common interest and concern including renewable energy and climate change and ways to promote economic development and security in the region”.

Chilean Foreign Affairs minister Mariano Fernandez described the meeting as “very important”, which will enable to advance in the “promising” bilateral relation.

“We are looking forward to advances in the very promising bilateral relations Chile has developed with the United States”, said Fernández, adding that the meeting will help promote spaces for a “regional dialogue” with the purpose of strengthening the US “new policy” towards Latinamerica started by President Obama.

The US president has only had private meetings with Mexico’s Felipe Calderón, in Mexico City, and Brazil’s Lula da Silva last March at the White House, although at the recent summit of the Americas, the US leader insisted in sitting at the same table next to Ms. Bachelet.

According to the announced agenda the two leaders will hold a private meeting followed by one with their task groups. Ms Bachelet is travelling with a numerous delegation that includes cabinet ministers, members of Congress and businessmen.

Following the meeting at the White House and a joint press conference, Ms Bachelet will be meeting with members of the US Senate and Lower House Foreign Affairs committees.

On Tuesday before the White House the Chilean president will participate of a working breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce and later will make a presentation at the Brookings Institute, the Democrats’ think-tank.

On Wednesday she’s scheduled to meet Vice-president Joseph Biden at the White House and later with the president of the Lower House, Nancy Pelosi in Capitol Hill.

Other activities of Ms Bachelet include a meeting with OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza and later a speech to the organization’s Permanent Council. She will also be participating of a regular session of the Executive committee from the Pan-American Health Organization. Ms Bachelet is a doctor in medicine.

Together with representatives from the Chilean community President Bachelet will unveil a statue in Washington dedicated to Chile’s national hero, Bernardo O’Higgings and honour the memory of Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean Foreign Affairs minister living in exile in Washington and killed by a hit group sent by former dictator Augusto Pinocher.

Wednesday evening the delegation flies to Mexico where Ms Bachelet will express to President Calderón Chile’s solidarity and support on the A/H1N1 influenza outbreak, plus commemorating the tenth anniversary of the free trade agreement with Mexico.

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