Panetta: Brazil is emerging global power

Apr 25, 2012, 1:24 PM

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised Brazil’s emergence as a global power Wednesday, urging the nation to become more involved in security efforts around the world by assisting in places like Africa.

“We welcome Brazil’s growing strength. We support Brazil as a global leader, and seek closer defense cooperation, because we believe that a stronger and more globally engaged Brazil will help enhance international security,” Panetta said in a speech to Brazil’s Superior War College. “With our deepening partnership, Brazil’s strength is more than ever our strength.”

In particular, he urged Brazil to work with the U.S. to help improve African militaries by conducting combined exercises and other training. U.S. officials have identified the terrorist threat coming out of Africa from al-Qaida linked groups as a growing international security problem.

Panetta said the U.S. and Brazil are at a critical point in their history and a stronger partnership could be a force for peace.

But even as he sketched out efforts to improve intelligence sharing and conduct combined military exercises and joint research, Panetta pushed back against Brazilian criticism of the U.S. and urged the country to buy American-made aircraft.

While his tone was largely friendly, it underscored the tensions that sometimes weigh on the relationship between the two democracies. And it comes as the U.S. frets about declining economic influence in South America, where China is steadily gaining as a top trading partner. China has surpassed the U.S. in trade with Brazil, Chile and Peru, and is a close second in Argentina and Colombia.

President Barack Obama has identified this region as increasingly important to U.S. national security. And Panetta continued that argument in his remarks Wednesday, as well as during meetings in Brasilia and Colombia earlier in the week.

Panetta said American and Brazilian officials must combine their technical expertise and increase information sharing about cybersecurity _ what he called the “battlefield of the future.”

Panetta said both countries “have critical infrastructure that is targeted every day for intrusion and potential attack.”

Still, Panetta’s push for Brazil to make a decision on a long-delayed competition and choose to buy American-made F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets underscored a pressure point in the two countries’ relations. The U.S. wants Brazil to buy 36 of the Boeing jets, with a contract valued at as much as $4 billion.

He argued that the U.S. willingness to partner with Brazil on the program would provide unprecedented advanced technologies. Brazil has complained that the U.S. must share more of its technologies.

“We fully understand that Brazil is not looking just to be the purchaser of a fighter aircraft, but rather a full-fledged partner in the development of cutting-edge aviation technology,” said Panetta, adding that this program would show how important the Brazilian partnership is to the U.S.

Brazilian officials, meanwhile, are upset about the stalled $354 million Air Force contract that would sell the U.S. 20 Brazilian-made Super Tucano light aircraft.

During a press conference Tuesday, Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim, sitting alongside Panetta, voiced open frustration that the U.S. Air Force rescinded the contract which was initially awarded in December to Brazil-based Embraer and its American partner, the Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corp.

Hawker Beechcraft Corp., which is based in Wichita, Kansas, had challenged the awarding of the contract, claiming its own AT-6 aircraft was wrongly excluded from the selection process. The Air Force has said it is seeking a new round of bids, but the process is on hold due to the legal challenges.

While Amorim denied that Brazil’s choice in its search for a jet fighter was a foregone conclusion, he noted that the country will choose based on price, quality and technology sharing. The French and Swedes are also competing against Boeing for the contract.

At the same time, Amorim said he was sad to hear the contract with Embraer was rescinded.

“Naturally, I cannot say that the entire relationship is going to depend on this. This is an example,” he said. And, in a veiled reference to Afghanistan, he added that the Embraer may be a better choice for “certain important theaters where the United States is involved.”

The single-engine turboprops would support security efforts in Afghanistan, and the contract could end up being worth as much as $1 billion, depending on future orders.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
25 days ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
26 days ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
26 days ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
1 month ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
Follow @KTAR923...
Sponsored Content by Arizona Department of Health Services

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Panetta: Brazil is emerging global power