LONDON — Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Monday gave Britain's queen and prime minister each a rock taken from the bottom of the collapsed San Jose mine — a symbol of his effort to turn the disaster-turned-success story into an international image makeover.
The rescue of 33 men from the stricken mine, where they had been trapped for more than two months, united Chileans and elicited a wave of sympathy around the world. Pinera's European tour, which began over the weekend in London, may help brighten the image of a country many here still associate with the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Pinera told reporters that economic relations, clean energy and education were among the topics he discussed with Prime Minister David Cameron. He also highlighted how Chile has changed and acquired more international respect since the mine collapse.
"I am sure that Chile now is a more united country, a stronger country, one prepared to face the new challenges, defeat poverty and underdevelopment," he said.
Pinera also met with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and gave her another piece of rock from the mine.