Obama Meets the Chilean Press

Jun 23, 2009 6:02pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: During a photo opt in the Oval Office today with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet President Obama declined to apologize for the CIA’s past role in Chile’s politics.

Indirectly referencing the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power motivated by the US, a Chilean reporter made echo of an old joke, “there’s never been a coup d’etat in the US because there’s no American embassy.”

Bachelet laughed, as did Obama.

The President said there have been times when the US has made “mistakes” but what is important is looking at the politics the US has today.

“I'm interesting in going forward, not looking backward.  I think that the United States has been an enormous force for good in the world,” Obama said.

The President said as he made clear during his meetings with Latin America countries at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago in April that the US is interested in a strong partnership based on human development with Latin American countries.

Obama said that the partnership should transcend ideologies, “I don't have a litmus test in terms of, you know, whether a government is center- right, center-left, this or that.”

On a little bit of a lighter note, the President clearly had a fan base covering him in the Oval office: the Chilean press.

“He is an idol in our country,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said of President Obama, “I mean, everybody was so anxious yesterday about this meeting.”

After many questions inquiring when he would come to Chile, (soon, he promised) a member of the Chilean press corp. asked for a group photo with Mr. Obama.

“Okay, why don’t we go outside, “ President Obama answered prompting the group to head out to the sunny Rose Garden for the picture.

Members of the Chilean press vied to stand next to President Obama.

“Short ones in front,” Obama instructed the group of Chilean reporters, and then made room for the Chilean President, somewhat of an afterthought to the group, to stand near him.

A Chilean reporter pointed to President Bachelet and told Obama, “Do you know that she’s the Chilean Obama?”

“Oh that’s fantastic” Obama replied.

-Sunlen Miller

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