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U.S. Seeks to Strengthen Inter-American Systems

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SANTIAGO, Chile, Nov. 18, 2002 – The United States is seeking ways to strengthen inter-American systems, a senior DoD official said Nov. 18.

"The idea is to link the democratic progress and nature of the hemisphere with security," the official said, speaking on background. The United States is working with the Organization of American States, the signers of the 1947 Rio Treaty and other multilateral institutions to bring the inter-American system closer together, the official noted.

"What's happening right now is there is a big trend in the region to find ways to integrate national capabilities into broader regional capabilities," the official said.

This regional approach signifies a huge change in the way the American democracies have worked and negotiated together. "They've done an incredible job in the past 15 years at finding ways to build confidence," the official observed.

Argentina and Chile, for example, have agreed to send a combined peacekeeping battalion to Cyprus. "Ten years ago, they were glaring at each other across the border," the official said.

Another sign is that representatives from El Salvador and Nicaragua want to send a combined civil affairs team to trouble spots around the world. Again, this would not have been possible a decade ago.

"There's really no need for peacekeepers in this hemisphere," the official said. "That's another remarkable sign of the progress being made."

The United States is suggesting two initiatives to strengthen hemispheric cooperation. One deals with multinational naval cooperation, and the other is establishing a regional peacekeeping effort.

"We want to see what can we do to work with the countries to work out a genuine partnership," the official said, providing some perspectives: 

  • For the naval initiative, the United States has looked at what is possible and available. There may be some interest on the part of Chile, some Central American nations and perhaps some nations in the Caribbean. 


  • On the peacekeeping side, a number of countries are actively involved in other parts of the world. Colombia just ended 20 years as part of the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai. Argentina and Uruguay have provided troops for various U.N. peacekeeping forces. 


  • One weakness among nations in the hemisphere is logistics: Forming a peacekeeping group in South America is one thing; transporting that force to a different region of the world and keeping it supplied is entirely another matter. But that is an area where the United States excels and may be able to help.
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Related Sites:
Statement by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to the Defense Ministerial of the Americas, Santiago, Chile, Nov. 19, 2002
DoD News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Joint Press Conference with Chilean MoD in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 18, 2002
DoD News Transcript: Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with La Tercera Daily, Santiago, Chile, Nov. 18, 2002
Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with El Mercurio Daily Newspaper, Chile, Nov. 18, 2002
DoD News Transcript: Background Briefing with Traveling Press Corps, Santiago, Chile, Nov. 18, 2002
DoD News Transcript: Background Briefing on Secretary Rumsfeld's Forthcoming Trip to Chile and NATO Summit, Nov. 15, 2002

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