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Hillary Clinton to discuss Iran's nuclear program on Latin America trip

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will push for new sanctions on Iran's nuclear program in Brazil as part of a five-country trip to Latin America.

By Staff writer / February 28, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is spending a week visiting countries in Latin America.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP



Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton undertakes a “we haven’t forgotten you” swing through Latin America this week that aims to bolster the Obama administration’s profile in the region, with an agenda ranging from democracy and security to Iran.

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Iran? One of Secretary Clinton’s stops is Brazil, which currently holds a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council, where the US is pressing for adoption of a new round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Brazil aspires to world-power status and to a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council, but it also says it opposes international measures against Iran. So Clinton will emphasize the internationalist perspective that a nuclear Iran would destabilize a volatile region, and remind the Brazilians that (in the US view) if they want to be a world power, they need to think and act like one.

Stable democracies highlighted

More broadly, Clinton will use her five-country trip to highlight how the Western Hemisphere is almost uniformly a region of stable democracies facing common challenges, aides say. On her week-long trip, Clinton is scheduled to visit Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, all of which recently elected new presidents.

(Because of the massive earthquake Saturday, it was unclear Sunday if Clinton would be able to visit Chile Tuesday as planned. In a statement Clinton said, "The United States stands ready to provide necessary assistance to Chile in the days and weeks ahead and is coordinating closely with senior Chilean officials on the content and timing of such support.")

While Uruguay elected a leader from the left, Chileans opted to shift their presidency from the left to the right. For its part, Costa Rica elected its first woman president.

Clinton will “underscore US support for representative democracy in the region, regardless of whether elected leaders come from the left ... or from the right,” says Peter DeShazo, director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Mr. DeShazo notes that the Obama administration started off professing a deep commitment to the region, backing up words with high-profile visits.

President Obama visited Mexico and attended a hemispheric summit in Trinidad early in his presidency.