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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.

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But – as often happens – other international and domestic issues crowded out Latin America, so Clinton is out to reconfirm the commitment, DeShazo says.

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Clinton’s trip comes a week after Latin American and Caribbean countries decided to create a new regional bloc to include Cuba (barred as a dictatorship from the Organization of American States) but closed to the US and Canada.

Officials in Washington insist the US welcomes the new organization focused on southern interests.

Repairing the damage over Honduras

Still, the secretary of State’s trip also appears to be designed in part to repair the damage the US relationship with the region sustained over Washington’s handling of last year’s coup in Honduras and its aftermath. Two of Clinton’s stops will be in Central America, where she will press for Honduras’s reinsertion into the hemispheric community and for the region to overcome differences over Honduras’s new post-coup government, State Department officials say.

“We see the outcome in Honduras is a very successful case of standing for a very fundamental principle ... that you cannot tolerate a coup d’etat in a country,” said Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, in a briefing for reporters on Clinton’s trip Friday.

“But at the same time, a solution had to be found to Honduras,” he added, noting that the “international community” has recognized the recent election of President Porfirio Lobo, whom voters chose in January to replace the ousted Manuel Zelaya. “We need to work to try to see how we can engage it back in.”

(Monitor report: "Could Honduras crisis prompt a power grab in Nicaragua?")

Mr. Valenzuela also addressed Washington’s interest in discussing Iran with Brazil, saying, “What we want to try to tell the Brazilians is yes, if you have engagement with Iran, we’d really want to encourage you and urge you to in fact use that engagement in a way that you can push the Iranians ... to meet their fundamental international obligations.”

Putting the point a bit more bluntly, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Phillip Crowley told reporters a day earlier, “Brazil is an emerging power with a growing influence in the region and around the world, and we believe that with that influence comes responsibility. And we will be talking to Brazil about the way forward on Iran.”