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Westerwelle brings aid to devastated Chile

AFP · 8 Mar 2010, 08:20

Published: 08 Mar 2010 08:20 GMT+01:00

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Westerwelle, who was starting a Latin American tour, is the first European minister to visit Chile since the 8.8-quake February 27 and ensuing tsunami, which left hundreds dead.

The assistance, valued by the German foreign ministry at €630,000, includes dialysis machines, drinking water containers, tents and blankets for those left homeless by the massive temblor.

A four-member team from Germany's THW civil reconstruction service will travel to Concepcion, one of cities worst hit by the catastrophe, and stay for two weeks to help assess building damage.

Part of the aid is also earmarked for churches and other cultural monuments battered in the quake.

Westerwelle presented the relief assistance to his Chilean counterpart, Mariano Fernandez, and later met with the president-elect, tycoon Sebastian Pinera, who will succeed Michelle Bachelet Thursday.

"We of course want to show our solidarity because Germany and Chile historically have very strong ties" dating back to the first wave of German immigrants to Chile in the 1850s, Westerwelle told reporters as he arrived at Santiago airport.

At the time thousands of Germans unhappy with religious tensions at home during German unification efforts emigrated to Chile's temperate rural center and cooler south, as well as to the United States.

"We want to show that we do not forget our friends in their hour of need," Westerwelle said.

After talks later at the presidential palace - the foreign ministry suffered damage in the quake - Fernandez thanked Westerwelle for "a further sign of international solidarity" since the national tragedy.

Westerwelle conferred before the trip with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had brought aid to Chile Tuesday.

Story continues below…

Initially reluctant to accept outside help, Bachelet issued an aid appeal as it became clear that the country, long seen as a model of political and economic stability in Latin America, desperately needed assistance.

Officials had said more than 800 people died in the disaster but now say 452 deaths have been confirmed.

Westerwelle added the brief stop in Chile to a long-planned Latin American tour, which will take him to Argentina later Sunday, followed by Uruguay Tuesday and Brazil Wednesday to Friday.

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Your comments about this article

09:35 March 8, 2010 by biker hotel harz
That's very kind of him! He can look up some of his long - lost relatives whilst here's there.
09:38 March 8, 2010 by majura
"We of course want to show our solidarity because Germany and Chile historically have very strong ties"

I first read this thinking: 'What? He's referring to how Nazi's found a safe haven there!?'

Anyway, I hope he was speaking Spanish- as it is customary to do so when in a Spanish speaking country.
21:37 March 8, 2010 by oink
it is pretty old the German-Chilean connection, which started in 1845.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Chilean (english)

http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonizaci%C3%B3n_alemana_en_Chile (spanish)
04:59 March 9, 2010 by Thames

You have been watching too many movies about Nazis in South America or perhaps you have an obsession the Nazis.

Germans have been emigrating to Chile and other Latin American countrys since the mid 19 century.
09:14 March 10, 2010 by majura
Thames, not too many movies nor an obsession.

It's just the first thing that comes to my mind when someone mentions South American and Germany. Even my German born and raised partner thinks exactly the same thing.
05:05 March 11, 2010 by Thames

I conceed your point. Upon further reflection I can see why someone might make that connection.
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