U.S. Defense Secretary Seeks to Strengthen Partnership with Chile
As the United States defense budget continues to tighten, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta seeks to strengthen partnership with South American alliances.
SANTIAGO – Upon his arrival in Chile, Panetta met with counterparts and military officials in Colombia and Brazil to discuss an expansion of defense and security cooperation. At a press conference yesterday with Chilean Defense Minister Andrés Allamand in Santiago, Chile, Panetta spoke about the importance of enhancing cooperation in new challenges of regional security, cyber attacks, and drug trafficking.
Allamand drew attention to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between the U.S. and Chile, stating that both nations share a strong commitment to democracy and social justice.
At the meeting, Allamand and Panetta answered questions from the Chilean media. The first reporter asked the ministers about the military training facility in Concon, Chile.
Both denied that it was to be used as a U.S. military base and reminded the media that this facility was being run by the Chilean military in coordination with the U.N. They also added that the U.S. role, thus far, was to assist with the improvement of various training exercises. Its involvement did not extend beyond that.
Earlier in the day Panetta met with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera at the Presidential Palace. Panetta highlighted Chile’s disaster preparedness as a model for nations everywhere. Both Allamand and Panetta are planning to bring a disaster response proposal to the Conference of Defense Ministers to be held in Uruguay.
Panetta emphasized their agreement on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Both countries have substantial interests in maintaining a stable economic relationship with East Asian partners such as China, Japan, and Korea.