Rio de Janeiro, April 26 (IANS/EFE) The US is ready to transfer military technology to Brazil to be able to count the South American country as a strategic ally, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said here Wednesday.
Panetta, in a speech before military officers at Brazil's Superior War College in Rio de Janeiro, committed himself to exerting every effort to facilitate the technology transfer to the giant South American nation.
The announcement was a response to the demand made Tuesday by Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim, who, at a joint press conference with the Pentagon chief, complained that the US sells military equipment to Brazil but restricts access to the technology that accompanies it.
Panetta, on a South American tour that began in Colombia and will end in Chile, said that - despite the restrictions - the US between 2010 and 2011 approved about 4,000 export licenses for controlled equipment.
The US and Brazil have to increase the trade of high technology "flowing in both directions between our two countries", the US defense secretary said.
Panetta specifically mentioned the case of the 36 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets that Washington wants Brazil to buy from Boeing.
Also participating in the Brazilian bidding for the purchase of the 36 combat aircraft to augment its fleet are the French-made Rafale and Sweden's Grippen.
"This offer (for the Super Hornets), which has the strong support of the United States Congress, contains an unprecedented advanced technology sharing that is reserved for only our closest allies and partners," Panetta said Wednesday.
Panetta said that the US wants military cooperation agreements with Brazil since it considers the South American nation to be a strategic ally in helping guarantee regional security.
The secretary came to Brazil specifically to participate with Amorim in the first meeting of the bilateral committee for cooperation in defense matters, the creation of which was agreed to three weeks ago in Washington by Presidents Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff.
"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 Rio.
Panetta said that Brazil and the US have common challenges in the hemisphere, among which are drug trafficking and dealing with nuclear disasters, and he added that the best way to confront them is with joint action.
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