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U.S. Developing Security Relations in South America

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 13, 1996 – "We are at the threshold of a new, promising era of prosperity, peace and stability in South America," U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry told U.S. troops stationed here.

Ten years ago, he said, many countries in South America were hostile to the United States. Today, they are all democracies, and democracies tend to be more peaceful. But in some cases, he said, the new governments are shaky, and it's possible democratic reforms will be reversed. The United States now has the opportunity to support these emerging democracies and develop important security relationships in the region, he said.

Throughout South America, Perry said, DoD is forming strong military partnerships. The United States and its Latin American friends are making military contacts from the highest levels of government to the rank and file. Defense ministers and sergeants alike are working in the name of defense cooperation.

Last summer, Western Hemisphere defense ministers from 34 democratic nations met at the Defense Ministerial of the Americas, hosted by Perry in Williamsburg, Va. Many met neighboring defense officials for the first time there. At the end of the meeting, they affirmed their willingness to develop security relations with the United States as well as each other.

As a result, Perry said, Chile and Argentina are now working to overcome historic border disputes. He said there is now almost no possibility of military conflict developing between those two countries. The United States, Chile, Argentina and Brazil helped Peru and Ecuador resolve a lingering border war involving 5,000 combatants.

During a trip to Chile March 1013, Perry told war college students the United States is increasing defense and military contacts and cooperation with their nation.

"Nothing will do more to increase understanding than creating opportunities for our personnel to meet and study with each other," Perry told about 450 Chilean officers gathered at the ministry of defense in Santiago. "Our defense and military contacts, exercises and activities serve to draw our nations closer together," he said.

Defense and military officials have exchanged seniorlevel visits, he said. U.S. and Chilean pilots have trained together, and another exercise is slated to begin in a few days. The U.S. and Chilean navies train together in the annual Unitas exercises.

DoD is increasing funds for Chilean officers to study at American military schools, Perry said. Some of the funds for training Chilean military in the United States can also be used to train Chilean civilians involved in defense affairs.

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