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Clinton looks for hemispheric solidarity

ADDRESSED OAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY Secretary of State Clinton warned the actions of Iran and North Korea pose a threat to the peace and stability of the world. ADDRESSED OAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Secretary of State Clinton warned the actions of Iran and North Korea pose a threat to the peace and stability of the world.
Associated Press / June 8, 2010

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LIMA — US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton opened a four-nation tour of Latin America and the Caribbean yesterday hoping to boost cooperation on security matters and build consensus on contentious issues like US immigration laws and the fallout over last year’s coup in Honduras.

In discussions taking place against the backdrop of broader international developments, Clinton will also be seeking regional support for efforts at the United Nations to slap new sanctions on Iran over its suspect nuclear program, hold North Korea responsible for the sinking of a South Korean warship, and deal with the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip.

After meeting President Alan Garcia of Peru yesterday, Clinton said Iran and North Korea must be made to understand that “their actions pose a threat to the peace and stability of the world community.’’ Before arriving in Lima, she predicted that Iran would try to “pull some stunt’’ to avert a UN Security Council vote on sanctions this week.

Clinton is in Lima for the annual general assembly of the Organization of American States, and even with global matters looming over the session, she plans to stress the Obama administration’s commitment to promoting stability and democracy in the Western hemisphere.

Yet one of the most divisive topics facing the OAS — whether to readmit Honduras to the regional bloc — is not on the formal agenda. Yesterday, Nicaragua lost a bid to include Honduras on the agenda when a majority of foreign ministers objected. An attempt by Ecuador to get Israel’s raid on a Gaza aid flotilla onto the agenda was also rejected.

The United States wants Honduras allowed back into the organization following elections that brought the current president, Porfirio Lobo, to power after the June 2009 coup that ousted his predecessor, Manuel Zelaya. Other governments, notably Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, are opposed and insist that Zelaya be allowed to return home first.

Clinton noted that the United States, along with the rest of the OAS, had condemned the coup but had also worked to restore democratic order.

“Now it is time for the hemisphere as a whole to move forward and welcome Honduras back into the inter-American community,’’ she told the group. Lobo, she said, had fulfilled his pledges to form a unity government and created a national reconciliation commission.

Also of great concern in Latin America is Arizona’s new immigration law, which some believe will lead to racial profiling.

The law, which takes effect July 29 unless blocked by a court as requested under pending legal challenges, also makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally or to impede traffic while hiring day laborers, regardless of the worker’s immigration status. It would become a crime for illegal immigrants to solicit work.

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has called the law “an issue of concern to all citizens of the Americas, beginning with the citizens of the United States.’’ Other nations have complained loudly about it.

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