Secretary Gates, Brazilian Defense Minister Sign Security Pact

gatesDefense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim yesterday signed a new defense cooperation agreement, which Gates said “offers a transparent, positive model for engagement throughout the Americas.”

“This agreement will lead to a deepening of U.S.-Brazil defense cooperation at all levels and will demonstrate how much more effectively we can confront shared security challenges when we work in partnership,” Gates said at the signing ceremony in his Pentagon dining room.

This cooperation not only will strengthen both countries’ military capabilities, but also will provide industrial opportunities, Gates said. It will also open the door for more information exchanges about operational experiences, defense technology and peacekeeping operations, as well as more combined training and education and joint military exercises.

Gates praised Brazil’s leadership of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti during the past six years, particularly in leading United Nations relief and recovery efforts following the January in the beginning of the year. Gates said thousands of U.S. and Brazilian troops have worked side by side since the earthquake to bring humanitarian aid and security to the Haitian people.

“The agreement is a formal acknowledgment of the many security interests and values we share as the two most populous democracies in the Americas,” Gates said. “These common interests make Brazil’s growing involvement and significance in global affairs a welcome development for the United States.”

When asked if Brazil had decided what new fighter jet it will buy, Jobim said he expects to make a recommendation by the end of May. U.S. officials are hopeful Brazil will choose the U.S. F/A-18 Super Hornet over the French Rafale or Swedish Gripen aircraft.

“We would like to have the Brazilians choose the Super Hornet,” a senior defense official told reporters. “That would add to our strategic relationship. But this agreement … contains much more than what each country might buy or procure from each other. There are many other elements to it.”

Leaving today for Latin America, Gates plans to visit Peru, Colombia and the Caribbean to reaffirm U.S. commitment to the region and promote closer defense cooperation.

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