April 13th, 2010 17:03 EST
Robert Gates Travels To Peru
Gates Travels to Peru to Promote Regional Cooperation
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, April 13, 2010 " Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is traveling to Lima, Peru, for the first stop of a regional visit to encourage continued multilateral cooperation in confronting common threats and to explore new ways the United States can help.
Gates, who also will make stops in Colombia and Barbados, told reporters he plans to recognize successes already made as the region faces insurgencies, drug trafficking, and other challenges.
Gates said he hopes to explore opportunities for more cooperation. "
We very much support and are prepared to facilitate " the growing regional cooperation that is going on among these different countries, Peru and Colombia, and I might say, Mexico as well, " he said.
This kind of cooperation is very important, " Gates continued. They face similar types of problems with insurgents and narcotics and crime, and so figuring out how we can further help them in their own efforts and also in their cooperation with one another is an important opportunity. "
Tomorrow in Lima, Gates is slated to meet with President Alan Garcia and Defense Minister Rafael Rey to discuss Peru`s fight against illicit drug trafficking and the Shining Path terrorist organization. The Shining Path, also known as Sendero Luminoso, had been all but neutralized in Peru. However, it has begun to surface in recent years through sporadic violent attacks funded largely through cocaine trafficking, a senior defense official told reporters on background.
Gates, who hosted Rey at the Pentagon in February, will reaffirm the U.S. commitment in helping the Lima government confront its top security challenges, the official said.
The visit is Gates` second to Peru as defense secretary. He last visited in October 2007, when Peruvian defense officials presented him a plan for combating arms and drug trafficking along Peru`s rivers and coasts.
The trip follows yesterday`s signing of a new defense cooperation agreement with Brazil. Gates called that accord an important step forward in our bilateral relationship [and] our military-to-military relationship with Brazil. "