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Clinton’s Latin America trip: all about Iran?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added an unplanned stop to her Latin America itinerary: Buenos Aires. The U.S. delegation will stay overnight in Argentina Monday instead of Chile, where the government is still preoccupied with the aftermath of Saturday’s devastating earthquake. "Instead of overnighting in Santiago on Monday night we will travel from Montevideo ...

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added an unplanned stop to her Latin America itinerary: Buenos Aires. The U.S. delegation will stay overnight in Argentina Monday instead of Chile, where the government is still preoccupied with the aftermath of Saturday’s devastating earthquake.

"Instead of overnighting in Santiago on Monday night we will travel from Montevideo [Uruguay] Monday afternoon to Buenos Aires in order to meet with Argentine President [Cristina Fernández] de Kirchner, instead of in Uruguay as originally planned," a State Department official on the trip said.

Clinton was in Uruguay this weekend to attend the inauguration of Jose Mujica, a former guerrilla leader turned president. The Kirchner meeting was originally supposed to happen in Montevideo, but was changed after the Chilean earthquake caused Clinton’s team to re-examine her travel plans.

Although Latin American countries are no doubt hoping to discuss a range of bilateral issues, Clinton is more likely to focus on the renewed international efforts to pressure Iran regarding its nuclear program. "Iran is at the top of my agenda," Clinton told a Senate committee last week when talking about her trip.

She might find the going tough, particularly in Brazil, which currently holds a seat on the Security Council. Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim recently poured cold war on the U.S.-led sanctions push, saying, "We don’t believe that sanctions will prove effective." Under Secretary Bill Burns, the State Department’s lead on the issue, visited the Brazilian capital ahead of the Clinton trip, but it’s not clear what he was able to achieve.

Clinton will be in Brasilia Wednesday to meet directly with President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva and Amorim. Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela previewed Friday what Clinton’s message will be when it comes to Iran.

"While we’re cognizant of the fact that the Brazilian government has reached out to Iran and has been approaching the Iranians, it’s very much on our agenda to try to insist with the Brazilians that in their engagement with Iran, we would like them to encourage the Iranians, of course, to meet their international obligations," he said, adding that the State Department views Brazil’s opposition to new sanctions as a "mistake."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added an unplanned stop to her Latin America itinerary: Buenos Aires. The U.S. delegation will stay overnight in Argentina Monday instead of Chile, where the government is still preoccupied with the aftermath of Saturday’s devastating earthquake.

"Instead of overnighting in Santiago on Monday night we will travel from Montevideo [Uruguay] Monday afternoon to Buenos Aires in order to meet with Argentine President [Cristina Fernández] de Kirchner, instead of in Uruguay as originally planned," a State Department official on the trip said.

Clinton was in Uruguay this weekend to attend the inauguration of Jose Mujica, a former guerrilla leader turned president. The Kirchner meeting was originally supposed to happen in Montevideo, but was changed after the Chilean earthquake caused Clinton’s team to re-examine her travel plans.

Although Latin American countries are no doubt hoping to discuss a range of bilateral issues, Clinton is more likely to focus on the renewed international efforts to pressure Iran regarding its nuclear program. "Iran is at the top of my agenda," Clinton told a Senate committee last week when talking about her trip.

She might find the going tough, particularly in Brazil, which currently holds a seat on the Security Council. Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim recently poured cold war on the U.S.-led sanctions push, saying, "We don’t believe that sanctions will prove effective." Under Secretary Bill Burns, the State Department’s lead on the issue, visited the Brazilian capital ahead of the Clinton trip, but it’s not clear what he was able to achieve.

Clinton will be in Brasilia Wednesday to meet directly with President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva and Amorim. Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela previewed Friday what Clinton’s message will be when it comes to Iran.

"While we’re cognizant of the fact that the Brazilian government has reached out to Iran and has been approaching the Iranians, it’s very much on our agenda to try to insist with the Brazilians that in their engagement with Iran, we would like them to encourage the Iranians, of course, to meet their international obligations," he said, adding that the State Department views Brazil’s opposition to new sanctions as a "mistake."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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