Chile, U.S. to Sign Nuclear Pact

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"Goal is to institutionalize cooperation, train engineers."

The governments of Chile and the United States are putting the finishing touches on a nuclear cooperation accord that will be signed during President Barack Obama's visit to Santiago in March, U.S. Ambassador to Chile Alejandro Wolff said.

In a statement published Saturday in the daily La Tercera before traveling to Washington in preparation for Obama's visit, the diplomat said that the accord, consisting of a memorandum of understanding on nuclear energy, "is almost ready."

The accord is in line with those signed by the United States with other countries, including Argentina and France, and its goal is to institutionalize cooperation and train engineers and experts in the field.

According to La Tercera, for Santiago there is also a political element, which is that Chile, as a political ally of the United States in the region, does not face external conflicts or have problems in regional relations because of an energy shortage.

Ambassador Wolff also said that Obama plans talks with Chilean President Sebastian Piņera on the state of democracy and stability in the region, as well as on trade and the defense of peace and human rights.

According to the diplomat, "Chile is seen as a leader in matters of human rights, for obvious reasons, even beyond the region at a global level."

Meanwhile Wolff denied that the exclusion of Argentina in Obama's first trip to South America is a sign of that country's loss of influence in the region: "There is a time factor and this will not be his only visit to the region," he said.

Obama's trip, which also includes visits to Brazil and El Salvador, was announced by the U.S. president himself on Tuesday in his State of the Union address to Congress.

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