SANTIAGO, Chile – SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile's new president is looking to New Orleans and its recovery after Hurricane Katrina for lessons to help him lead the South American nation's own comeback from a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Embarking on his first trip to the United States since taking office last month, Sebastian Pinera is scheduled to meet with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Sunday — a visit sure to invite comparisons between Chile's much-praised response to the magnitude 8.8 earthquake and the U.S. government's much-criticized response to Katrina.
Pinera, who calls himself Chile's "reconstruction president," still faces obstacles such as providing temporary housing for tens of thousands as the South American winter approaches.
"We don't want to make the same mistakes," Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno said before the trip. "The idea is to understand what was done well (after Katrina), and what was done poorly."
Nagin and Pinera "will discuss the ways that New Orleans has used this devastating experience to rebuild a better city than before," the mayor's spokesman James Ross said.
The Chilean delegation then goes to Washington, where Pinera will speak at the Brookings Institute on Monday before joining the White House summit on nuclear security.
President Barack Obama is expected to highlight Chile's cooperation in keeping highly enriched uranium, or HEU, from the hands of potential terrorists.
Recently, as aftershocks from last month's magnitude-8.8 earthquake shook their equipment, U.S. and Chilean engineers extracted the last of Chile's HEU and shipped it in customized containers to South Carolina, where it will likely be converted to safer fuel and resold for use in the world's reactors.