Clinton to leave for Latin America as earthquake rocks Chile

10:40, February 28, 2010      

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday that she is to stick with her plan to visit Latin America starting Sunday, and that she is to remain in close contact with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, whose country was struck by a massive earthquake earlier in the day.

"I leave for the region tomorrow and will be in close contact with President Bachelet and other leaders," Clinton said in a State Department statement.

Clinton was scheduled to travel to Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Guatemala from Feb. 28 to March 5. She made no reference in the statement whether she still plans to visit Chile. State Department said last week Clinton was due to meet Bachelet and President-elect Sebastian Piera in Chile.

Clinton said the United States is closely monitoring reports from Chile and across the Pacific rim, reiterating that the United States stands ready to provide necessary assistance to Chile.

U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier that his country has resources in position to deploy, and could help in rescue and recovery efforts, should Chile ask for help.

Clinton said the U.S. side is coordinating closely with senior Chilean officials on the content and timing of U.S. support, and the U.S. embassy in the Chilean capital Santiago has established a command center to ensure safety of U.S. citizens in Chile.

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