U.S.-Argentine Relationship 'Continues to Strengthen,' Rumsfeld Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
BRASILIA, Brazil, March 22, 2005 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld arrived here at Brazil's capital city today after participating in what he described as "excellent" discussions with Argentina's minister of defense earlier in the day.
After meeting with Defense Minister Jose Pampuro in Buenos Aires, Rumsfeld told reporters that the United States' relationship with Argentina "continues to strengthen."
Rumsfeld praised Argentina's "vital" role in flood relief efforts in Haiti, where Argentine forces are part of a Brazilian-led, U.N. peacekeeping-humanitarian force that also includes Guatemalan troops.
Pampuro echoed Rumsfeld's praise of the quality of their discussions, saying the talks were "fruitful." U.S.-Argentine collaborations in defense matters, Pampuro noted, are "highly beneficial for both our countries."
The two leaders also noted there'd be continued U.S.-Argentine cooperation in the science and technology fields, and signaled their mutual interest in continuing U.S.-Argentine military exercises.
After issuing statements to reporters, Rumsfeld and Pampuro traveled across town to tour the Metropolitan Cathedral. Afterward, the U.S. defense secretary made his farewells to the Argentine defense minister and headed to the airport for the flight to Brazil.
Speaking with reporters on the plane trip to Brasilia, Rumsfeld said the South American countries of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay "have a very good, constructive relationship" among themselves, similar to how Central American nations cooperate on mutual defense issues.
"They're all focused on the importance of democracy and work together to try to see that countries do not slip away from democratic institutions," Rumsfeld pointed out. Such countries, he added, recognize and understand how democratic systems, economic development and security issues are interrelated.
The lack of security and a peaceful environment, Rumsfeld noted to the traveling press, proves counterproductive to economic activity.
Rumsfeld said he'd discuss mutual defense interests with senior Brazilian government leaders, including Defense Minister Jose Alencar Gomes Da Silva.
Slightly smaller than the United States in landmass, Brazil is the largest and most populous country in South America, with the region's most robust economy.
The United States maintains a keen interest in activities across the Western Hemisphere, Rumsfeld told reporters during the flight from Washington to Argentina, noting America has "good military-to-military relationships" with Argentina, Brazil and Guatemala.
Rumsfeld arrived in Buenos Aires March 21, kicking off a four-day Latin American trip. The secretary is slated to conclude his trip with a visit to the Central American nation of Guatemala before returning to Washington.