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Hughes Says Latin America Is a Top Priority for President Bush

VOA obtains exclusive interview with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy

Washington, D.C., March 10, 2006 — Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes, before leaving on a five-nation visit to Latin America, told the Voice of America (VOA) that Latin America "is one of President Bush's priorities."

Hughes made the comments in an exclusive interview late Thursday, the day before leaving on a visit to Chile, Colombia, Panama, Brazil and El Salvador. Her trip is the first to Latin America by a U.S. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Hughes and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend the inauguration of the newly elected president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet. Hughes praised the fact that "after seeing so much violence, [Bachelet] had decided to dedicate her life to building understanding and tolerance and even love."

Asked about her role in improving America's image in the region, including educational and cultural exchange programs, Hughes said, "One of my goals as Under Secretary is to increase exchanges, and we want a significant increase in our budget for exchanges for the next budget year."

She said the United States seeks "to deliver on our democracy and make sure that its benefits reach all the people," and that while "there are always going to be differences on matters of policy, we have to discuss those in a respectful way" and remember that both the United States and Latin America "value so much, and have so much in common."

The interview was broadcast to Latin America through VOA's radio and television affiliates, and on VOA's weekday news program Desde Washington (From Washington), which features news briefs on the top stories of the day. The interview, along with additional information and programming, can be found at:

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.

For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4959 or by e-mail to