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Press Topper Bilat Meeting at the Pentagon With Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Fernando Azevedo e Silva Minister of Defense of the Federative Republic of Brazil

March 26, 2019
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan; Fernando Azevedo e Silva, Minister of Defense of the Federative Republic of Brazil

Q:  Mr. Secretary, are you looking at any way to possibly bring Brazil into NATO?  

MINISTER FERNANDO AZEVEDO E SILVA (through translator):  That's not a hypothesis we're considering, Brazil is looking forward to a peaceful and a swift solution to the crisis in Venezuela.  

ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN:  OK.  Mr. Minister, welcome.  Ambassador, great to have you here.  It's, I think as we discussed here, first visit as the minister of defense.  So it's always a welcome home for you.  As President Trump and President Bolsonaro showed last week at the White House, our U.S.-Brazil relationship is entering a new era and growing even stronger.  

SEC. SHANAHAN:  President Trump declared Brazil a Major Non-NATO Ally.  This designation reflects reality.  Brazil is a respected strategic partner.  

Brazil's leadership in our hemisphere and beyond is welcome and impressive, from military exercises to professional military education to space.  

Minister Fernando, I'm excited to build on this moment with you and make concrete advances to keep both Brazil and the United States safe.  

This includes cooperation and interoperability, defense-industrial collaboration, research and development, cyber and space.

I note U.S. Cyber Command and U.S. Southern Command are working closely with your cyber command to strengthen cyber defenses.

And two weeks ago, the New York National Guard formally signed a state partnership with Brazil aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid in Manhattan.

Just two examples among many, but they prove our military-to-military ties are growing across the board.

Minister, I look forward to developing a personal relationship with you so we can do so at the senior-most of our military.

To close, let me share the great respect of the U.S. military for the armed forces of Brazil.

The spirit of the old expression about about Brazil's military remains true today: "The snake will smoke."

Minister Fernando, thank you, again, for coming.  I look forward to our conversation.  

MIN. AZECEDO (through translator):  Mr. Secretary of Defense, members of the U.S. entourage, on behalf of the Brazilian delegation, I would just like to say that I have truly been moved to be here in the United States this morning.  

It was here in the United States at Fort Benning and Fort Bragg that I passed a few years of my early childhood when my father was here.  

So I was a very young boy and I didn't have much of an opportunity to practice my English.  The words I did learn all have to do with the things I was most interested in such as hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and ice cream.  


I have no doubt in the meaning and the sincerity of your words.  We are two great democracies that fought together during the Second World War.  

And it was fighting side-by-side in the battlefields of Europe, Brazil and the United States, and we had a hard time believing in our eventual success on the battlefield, so much so that saying started that we said it was more likely for a snake to ever smoke than for us to succeed in this war.  And that snake smoked.

So there are a number of topics I wanted to talk about, but I did ask our President Jair Bolsonaro to allow me to not accompany last week when he came because I wanted to wait and ride the wave of his success coming before me so that when I did arrive I could avail myself of that situation.  

So there, Mr. Secretary, you raise a number of very important issues that are indeed also important to the Brazilian armed forces.  First and foremost, the issue of becoming a non-NATO ally.  

So we're fully aware of the importance of Brazil's leadership within the South American theater.  

And a number of aspects that you've pointed out concerning defense.So as far as our national strategy defense, we have assigned different priority areas to our different -- the different services of our armed forces.  Of course, the air force will take charge of the space aspect, and the navy is in charge of the water, the sub-aquatic realm, as well as the army taking charge of the cyber warfare aspect.  

We're also very pleased with the news of the signed agreement by the New York National Guard and that protocol.  

And just as you have said, Mr. Secretary, I'm also eager to strengthen and broaden our personal relations.  

SEC. SHANAHAN:  Very good.  Thank you very much.  

Q:  All right.  Mr Secretary, a quick question on the southwest border.  Will you support a request from DHS to how they're detaining migrants on U.S. military bases?  

SEC. SHANAHAN:  We always are in the position that support the Department of Homeland Security, a constant dialogue with the secretary.  When she has some requests, we'll work with her through normal channels.  Thank you.  

Thanks, everybody.