SANTIAGO, Chile, March 10 (UPI) -- The Southern Hemisphere is becoming increasingly important to global export and quickly becoming an energy center, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Monday.
"The president [Obama] and I believe that the hemisphere, the Western Hemisphere, and particularly the Southern Hemisphere offers enormous, enormous potential," Biden said ahead of a bilateral meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Santiago, Chile. "It's the destination of 40 percent of all of America's exports. It's home to a growing middle class, and it's quickly becoming ... a world energy center."
The U.S. relationship and commitment to Chile is real and deep, "and you've deepened in your term, Mr. President," said Biden, who will attend the inauguration of Pinera's successor, Michelle Bachelet.
"And we, for the first time, Mr. President, at least in my career, talk about how to achieve a hemisphere that is secure, middle-class and free," Biden said. "We've never been able to look at it that way before -- from Canada down through Chile and everywhere in between. And nowhere in the region is that potentially more apparent than in Chile."
Chile's economic, democratic tradition teaches that pragmatism, not ideology, is the key to success, Biden said.
"It's no coincidence that Chile has used democracy and the open market to create new opportunities for her citizens," the vice president said.