(Note: Unless otherwise specified, the defense minister's remarks are provided through an interpreter.)
SEC. GATES: I'm very pleased to be here today with Minister Jobim, and at this point I should say happy birthday, Mr. Minister --
MIN. JOBIM: (In English.) Thank you.
SEC. GATES: -- and announce the signing of the defense cooperation agreement between the United States and Brazil. This agreement is the culmination of a period of growing security partnership between our two countries over the past two years, including the reestablishment of the Brazil-U.S. Defense Bilateral Working Group.
This agreement will allow us to deepen that cooperation and expand into promising areas of mutual interest, to include research and development of military systems and equipment; acquisition of defense products and services, which strengthens both nations' military capabilities, even as it provides opportunities for industry; information exchanges on operational experiences in international peacekeeping; and joint training and other military exercises.
The agreement is a formal acknowledgement of the many security interests and values we share as the two most populous democracies in the Americas. These include the strengthening of democratic institutions around the world, the promotion of economic growth and opportunity, overcoming poverty, supporting international peace and security, developing sources of sustainable energy, and addressing global environmental challenges. These common interests make Brazil's growing involvement and significance in global affairs a welcome development to the United States.
Haiti provides a compelling example of our partnership and Brazil's increasing role as an exporter of security and stability.
For the past six years, Brazil has led the peacekeeping forces in the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti. And after the terrible earthquake, Brazil ably took the lead in the U.N. forces' relief and recovery efforts. Over the past three months, thousands of U.S. and Brazilian troops have worked side by side to bring security, sustenance and hope to the Haitian people.
I believe that defense cooperation between the United States and Brazil sets an important example, a partnership that offers a transparent, positive model for engagement throughout the Americas. This agreement will lead to a deepening of U.S.-Brazil defense cooperation at all levels and will demonstrate how much more effectively we can confront shared security challenges when we work in partnership.
MIN. JOBIM: Mr. Secretary, first of all, thank you for wishing me a happy birthday. The question is whether sometimes we don't have more birthdays, we just endure. (Laughter.)
SEC. GATES: I know the feeling. (Laughter.)
MIN. JOBIM: Secretary Gates has just mentioned the -- what we have agreed and the terms of our agreement. And that shows the need that we have for the more cooperation between Brazil and the United States; a relationship that already existed in strictly military terms, and now we have this agreement that will allow us to strengthen our relationship without any mental reservation, everything based on trust.
And the peace in the world as we know it will depend much and much more on transparency and this kind of relationship that we have now. There are several mutual topics that we have to deal with, following this line of behavior.
So I congratulate Secretary Gates for his efforts and his team's efforts so we could come to this point to have an agreement like this.
SEC. GATES: Thank you, sir.
(Signing the agreement.)
SEC. GATES: Two left-handers.
MIN. JOBIM: Thank you.
SEC. GATES: Thank you.
(Signing completed.) (Applause.)
Q Mr. Secretary, question on the nuclear security conference? What is the significance of this gathering? And for you, how will you measure success, both at the conference and after it?
SEC. GATES: To me?
Q Well, perhaps you would both to like to answer it.
SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, the -- one of the things that makes the Nuclear Posture Review different than its predecessors is the priority that it has given to preventing nuclear proliferation and getting better control of nuclear materials around the world.
And that is precisely I think the agenda for the nuclear security conference. And it's about implementing agreements that have already been agreed to but also looking for new ways to try and improve security in both of these areas.
It's an area that people talk about a lot. But frankly there hasn't been the kind of concerted international attention in these two areas that there might have been. And so I think it creates some real opportunities.
Q Minister Jobim, have you made a decision yet on the F-18s in Brazil and who you might buy them from? And when can we expect a decision, if one hasn't been made yet?
MIN. JOBIM: As for the F-18, I intend to make a decision now in April or May to send to the president. And then we're going to keep the ball rolling after that.
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