Panetta Welcomes Brazil as World Power; Seeks Military Cooperation

Posted April 26th, 2012 at 12:50 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is calling for closer military cooperation with Brazil, hailing the rising South American nation as a true global power.

During remarks late Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Panetta stressed a U.S. offer to foster closer relations by selling Brazil's air force a number of advanced Super Hornet fighter aircraft. The planes employ advanced technology offered only to America's closest allies.

Panetta was speaking at Brazil's Superior War College, where he said Brazil's growing strength is good for both countries.

“This is a relationship, the United States and Brazil, a relationship between two global powers. And 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 for all of us. With our deepening partnership, Brazil's strength is more than ever, our strength.”

Panetta said the two countries should work together in pursuit of peace and security, particularly in Africa.

With one of the world's fastest-growing economies, Brazil is being courted as an ally by various world powers.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff last month met with the leaders of Russia, India, China and South Africa at a summit in India of the so-called BRICS nations, where the leaders questioned the Western-backed global economic architecture based on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

They also called for dialogue with Syria and Iran in what was seen as a challenge to the harder-line position of the United States.

While Brazil's military spending has been relatively stable as a percentage of gross domestic product at between 1 and 2 percent, its overall GDP has soared from about $600 billion in 2000 to more than $2 trillion in 2010 according to World Bank figures.