Panetta to Visit South America, Brussels
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2012 Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta will leave tomorrow on a weeklong trip to South America and Europe, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little briefs reporters at the Pentagon, Oct. 4, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The secretary will visit officials in Peru and then participate in the Defense Ministerial of the Americas in Uruguay, Little said.
The secretary will then fly to Brussels for a regularly scheduled meeting of NATO defense ministers.
The trip will reaffirm the U.S. military’s commitment to strengthening partnerships around the world, Little said.
“In Peru, Secretary Panetta will have the opportunity to meet with President [Ollanta] Humala [Tasso], and he will meet separately with Minister of Defense Pedro Cateriano,” the press secretary said.
Peru is a strong ally in the region. “The U.S. cooperates with the Peruvian military on a range of activities, exercises, and training,” Little said. Panetta will discuss ways to deepen the U.S.-Peruvian bilateral defense relationship in the areas of counternarcotics, counterterrorism, and humanitarian operations.
In Uruguay, he will have the chance to confer with Western Hemisphere counterparts and meet bilaterally with defense leaders from seven nations, including those from the host country, Little said. “The emphasis of those discussions will be on strengthening partnerships and working with other nations to build their capacity to contribute to regional and international security efforts,” he added.
Panetta will look to lay the groundwork for closer security cooperation with Uruguay on areas of common concern. “Given that schedule, it is fitting and timely that today the department is releasing a Western Hemisphere defense policy statement,” Little said.
The statement, Pentagon officials said, will guide the U.S. approach to defense cooperation across the region, recognizing that the Western Hemisphere nations have a growing capability and willingness to contribute to security efforts within and beyond their borders.