Chile defies U.S. hardline foreign policy during Pence's visit

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-17 13:19:15|Editor: ying
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SANTIAGO, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chile on Wednesday refused to endorse aggressive foreign policy initiatives against Venezuela and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) pursued by the United States, during a visit by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

"Chile will do everything it can to support Venezuelans in finding a peaceful path towards reestablishing democracy, but Chile will not support coups d'etat nor military interventions in Venezuela," Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said at a joint press conference after meeting with Pence.

Bachelet was the third Latin America leader Pence has met with on his regional tour. She opposes U.S. President Donald Trump's assertion last week that a "military option" was on the table to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Her words were echoed earlier during Pence's trip by the presidents of Colombia and Argentina. Pence will travel to Panama on Thursday, the final stop of his Latin American tour.

The reactions of his hosts have forced Pence to soften his stance. While he again cited Trump's threat of military intervention, he also spoke of "peaceful" alternatives.

"As President Trump has said just a few days ago, the United States has 'many options for Venezuela.' But the president also remains confident that working with all our allies across Latin America, we can reach a peaceful solution to the crisis facing the Venezuelan people," Pence said.

Meanwhile, Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz rejected Pence's request to severe diplomatic relations with the DPRK, in retaliation for Pyongyang's nuclear program.

"We are not considering breaking off diplomatic ties with North Korea. We respect the request by the United States, but Chile is maintaining its ties," Munoz said.

Chile has "strictly applied all of the sanctions decreed by the (United Nations) Security Council against" the DPRK and the two countries have not exchanged ambassadors, he said.

"So they are, I would say, very low-level ties, but we are not contemplating breaking them off," Munoz said.

Pence has called on several Latin American countries to join U.S. efforts to isolate the DPRK.

"We strongly urge Chile today, and we urge Brazil, Mexico, and Peru to break all diplomatic and commercial ties with North Korea (DPRK)," Pence said.

Bachelet expressed her "concern" about the DPRK's nuclear program, but called for stepping up diplomatic efforts to diffuse tensions.