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Donna Miles - American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim signed a new defense cooperation agreement today that Gates said provides an example of partnership and "offers a transparent, positive model for engagement throughout the Americas."
The agreement formalizes the growing security partnership between the United States and Brazil, while establishing a framework to build on that relationship, Gates said.
"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," he said at the signing ceremony in his Pentagon dining room.
The accord will expand the two countries' relationship into promising areas of mutual interest, including research and development, logistics support, technology security and the acquisition of defense products and services. This cooperation not only will strengthen both countries' military capabilities, but also will provide industrial opportunities, Gates noted.
In addition, the agreement opens the door for more information exchanges about operational experiences, defense technology and peacekeeping operations, as well as more combined training and education and joint military exercises.
Gates lauded Brazil's leadership of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti during the past six years, particularly in leading United Nations relief and recovery efforts following the devastating January earthquake. Thousands of U.S. and Brazilian troops have worked side by side since the earthquake to bring humanitarian aid and security to the Haitian people, he noted.
"The agreement is a formal acknowledgement of the many security interests and values we share as the two most populous democracies in the Americas," Gates said. "These common interests make Brazil's growing involvement and significance in global affairs a welcome development for the United States."
Jobim, to whom Gates extended birthday wishes today, shared Gates' enthusiasm about new opportunities the defense cooperation agreement will open up between the two countries.
Asked if Brazil had decided what new fighter jet it will buy, Jobim said he expects to make a recommendation by the end of May. U.S. officials are hopeful Brazil will choose the U.S. F/A-18 Super Hornet over the French Rafale or Swedish Gripen aircraft. "
We would like to have the Brazilians choose the Super Hornet. That would add to our strategic relationship," a senior defense official told reporters. "But this agreement ... contains much more than what each country might buy or procure from each other. There are many other elements to it."
Gates initially had planned to travel to Brasilia for the signing ceremony. However, the venue was rescheduled because Jobim is accompanying Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the two-day nuclear security summit President Barack Obama is hosting in Washington.
Gates will leave tomorrow for Latin America, where he plans to visit Peru, Colombia and the Caribbean to reaffirm U.S. commitment to the region and promote closer defense cooperation.