Chile's Leader To Enjoy Stardom In Europe After Mine Rescue


Chilean president Sebastian Pinera is taking in the sights of London on the second day of his visit to the UK.

The billionaire flew in to Heathrow Airport on Saturday night bearing lumps of rock from the bottom of the San Jose mine where 33 miners have been freed after being trapped underground for 69 days.

Mr Pinera will meet Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday before a trip to Buckingham Palace, where he is to have an audience with the Queen, and said he intended to give each of them a piece of rock.

Sunday will be a more relaxed affair for the 60-year-old former businessman however, as he visits the British Museum and the Churchill War Rooms, having expressed a deep admiration for the wartime leader.

Speaking shortly after his arrival, he said Chile had shown the world the meaning of "commitment, courage, faith, hope and unity".

He said of the successful rescue mission: "We did it because we were united, we did it because we were convinced, and did it because we would never leave anyone behind. And that's a very good principle for Chile and for the world.

"This has been very good news because it started as a tragedy but with the help of God and with the resolution, the commitment and the unity of the Chilean people we were able to end this story as a real blessing."

Mr Pinera, who met members of the UK's Chilean community at a central London hotel, said it was a "great honour" to meet the Queen.

He has brought "many presents" for Mr Cameron and the Queen, including a copy of the first message the miners sent to the surface, which read: "We are well in the shelter, the 33."

He admitted there was a lot to learn from the accident however, saying: "One of the lessons is that we have to be much more careful and committed with the safety, lives, the health of our workers."