The first trip to South America by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will take place amidst a series of U.S. policy changes in the region. By confirming that she will attend the new Uruguayan President Jose Mujica’s March 1 inauguration ceremony in Montevideo, Secretary Clinton will have the chance to meet with several of the region’s newly-elected presidents.
The agenda will include post-inauguration ceremony meetings with the new Uruguayan president and also with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. On March 2, she will fly to Chile where she is scheduled to speak with outgoing President Michelle Bachelet and the newly-elected president, Sebastian Piñera. On Wednesday she will travel to Brasilia to meet with President Lula da Silva and on Thursday she will meet in Costa Rica with outgoing incumbent President Oscar Arias and with the incoming President Laura Chinchilla. Advance planning is also taking place for her to visit Guatemala, where she would meet with several heads of state from Central America and the Dominican Republic.
Some of the likely topics on the agenda are Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s recent expressions of disappointment with President Obama’s policies on the region. According to assistant secretary of state Arturo Valenzuela, talks in Chile will include joint policies to enhance economic competitiveness, and in Brazil she will lobby for Brazilian support for U.S. policies against Iran. Finally, in Costa Rica, Mrs. Clinton will give a speech at the 3rd ministerial meeting on the Road for Prosperity in the Americas where she is expected to emphasize the importance of trade.