Panetta targets drug and arms deals in South America tour

Viola Glenger – Bloomberg, 04/23/2012

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is embarking today on a week-long visit to Colombia, Brazil and Chile for talks on drug trafficking, arms deals and bolstering smaller militaries in Latin America and elsewhere.

His agenda includes potential military aircraft deals with Brazil and a request from Colombia for more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aid to fight the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla group, known as FARC, two U.S. defense officials said in briefing reporters before the trip.

Panetta also is looking to coordinate with the three regional powers to provide military training for smaller countries in Central America and Africa that are fighting the drug trade, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks in advance.

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