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Cohen Meets Argentina's Current, Future Leaders

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Nov. 16, 1999 – "Argentina and the United States share a commitment to peace, prosperity, democracy and stability," Defense Secretary William Cohen said here Nov. 13.

Argentina was Cohen's second stop in a mid-November trip to reaffirm ties with three South American allies. After a stop in Brazil, Cohen arrived here for meetings with government officials and members of the new administration taking office Dec. 10.

Cohen met first with President Carlos Saul Menem at Casa Rosada, the presidential residence, to reaffirm the two nations' strong relations. Cohen presented Menem with a letter from President Clinton.

In the letter, Clinton congratulated the Argentines for their smooth and successful October presidential election. "The display of civic participation was a model for the region," he stated.

The letter also expressed Clinton's desire to explore additional ways to enhance and improve security cooperation. "It is my goal to continue the friendship, confidence and respect that have characterized the relationship between our nations," the president stated.

Cohen then met Defense Minister Jorge Dominguez at the ministry of defense. The two signed an agreement formalizing the ties of U.S. and Argentine defense officials who have worked together since 1995, a senior defense official said. The agreement also formalizes three defense working groups focused on cooperation, peacekeeping and humanitarian demining, and environmental issues, the official said.

During a joint press conference following the signing ceremony, Cohen expressed his admiration for Argentina's commitment to peacekeeping and its contribution to world peace. "People in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, East Timor and elsewhere are the grateful beneficiaries of the peacekeeping leadership and the skill shown by the Argentine military," he said.

Cohen said he expects relations with Argentina's present and future leaders to remain strong. "Because our countries share the same values, I am confident that Argentina and the United States will continue to work together as partners for peace, both in this hemisphere and throughout the world," Cohen said.

Cohen also met with President-elect Fernando de la Rua, who was in a medical clinic recovering from a sudden lung problem. De la Rua indicated he intends to continue the established policies regarding peacekeeping and engagement in international affairs, Cohen said.

Time constraints canceled Cohen's planned trip to the Caecopaz joint peacekeeping training center outside the Argentine capital. The center opened in June 1995 and offers courses in international demining and other aspects of U.N. peacekeeping operations and further demonstrates Argentina's engagement in regional and international affairs.

Cohen traveled Nov. 15 to Santiago, Chile, for meetings with President Eduardo Frei and Defense Minister Edmund Perez Yoma.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary William S. Cohen troops the line with Argentine Defense Minister Jorge Dominques during a welcome ceremony at the defense ministry in Buenos Aires Nov. 15. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.   
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