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Clinton Departs for Tour of Latin America

Clinton Departs for Tour of Latin America
Clinton Departs for Tour of Latin America

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has departed for a tour of Latin America, where she is expected to show support for Chilean earthquake victims and to seek support from Brazil for sanctions against Iran.

Clinton took off Sunday evening from Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.

Clinton's first stop is Uruguay, where she will attend Monday's inauguration of President-elect Jose Mujica.

State Department officials said Sunday Clinton will pay a brief visit to Chile on Tuesday morning. She plans to meet at the Santiago airport with President Michele Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Pinera.

Clinton visits Brazil on Wednesday. She plans to lobby Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to support new sanctions against Iran.

Brazil is a voting member of the U.N. Security Council, but has warm relations with Iran and has been reluctant to further punish Tehran for its nuclear enrichment program.

Clinton ends her tour in Costa Rica and Guatemala, where she will also meet the leaders of the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.

Last week Clinton sent the Obama administration's point-man for Iran, undersecretary of state William Burns, to Brasilia for preliminary discussions.

The U.S. is engaged in a diplomatic push for new U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran because of its rejection of proposals that would ease concerns about the direction of its nuclear program.

State department officials say Clinton will urge Brazil to take a constructive approach with Tehran, and encourage the Iranians to regain the trust of the world community on the nuclear issue.