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Brazilian President Travels to Quake-hit Chile

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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva travelled unexpectedly on Monday afternoon to Chile to meet with his Chilean countepart Michelle Bachelet in Santiago to show soliarity with the Chilean people after a massive earthquake killed at least 723 people.

The trip was not planned beforehand, Brazilian media reported. Lula, who was in Montevideo for the inauguration ceremony of Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, decided to visit Santiago after talking to Bachelet on the phone.

"I have just talked to President Michelle Bachelet and I am going to Chile because it seems things are more serious than we had thought," said Lula before the trip.

The meeting with Bachelet will take place at the Santiago airport,

which was damaged in Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake and whose operations have yet to be fully restored.

Lula stressed Brazil has already started to send aid to its neighbor and that more aid will follow if necessary.

"Right now, Brazil will do whatever it can for Chile. The moment calls for solidarity. And obviously, Brazil is willing to provide financial help if Chile needs it," he said.

Also on Monday, Lula's office confirmed that he will stick to the schedule to attend the inauguration ceremony of Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera on March 11.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2010)

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