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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 1, 1997


U.S. Policy on Arms Transfers to Latin America

Following a review of Administration security policy in Latin America, the President has decided to establish a process for case-by-case consideration of requests for advanced arms transfers to countries of that region. This decision puts U.S. arms transfer policy toward Latin America on a par with our policy toward other regions of the world and will be implemented in a way that serves our objective of promoting stability, restraint, and cooperation in the region.

In the last decade, Latin America has changed dramatically from a region dominated by coups and military governments to one of democracy and civilian control. Our partnership with countries in the region has reached a new level of maturity, cooperation and dialogue. As their democracies strengthen and their economies grow, the governments of some Latin American countries are now addressing the need to modernize their militaries. They are doing so in the context of greatly improved regional political cooperation and economic integration, and of increased defense cooperation, transparency and confidence-building.

It is in America's national security interest to promote stability and security among our neighbors in the hemisphere by engaging with them as equal partners as they modernize and restructure their defense establishments. In considering requests from appropriate civilian authorities for advanced conventional arms, we will take into account our guiding goals of strengthening democracy, including civilian control of the military; focusing resources on needed social and economic development; preventing an arms race; supporting transparency and confidence-building; and ensuring that defense modernization occurs responsibly and with restraint.

An interagency group has been formed under the Chairmanship of the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs to address and coordinate our efforts to achieve our security goals for the region, including enhancing regional cooperation and stability, and considering requests for advanced conventional arms transfers.

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