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American Forces Press Service

Myers Discusses Haiti, Terrorism, Brazil's Shoot-Down Policy>

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BRAZILIA, March 11, 2004 - Haiti, terrorism, Brazil's shoot-down policy and military relations between the United States and Brazil were among the subjects in a series of high-level meetings here March 10 for Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Earlier in the day, Myers visited the Brazilian military's Jungle Warfare School in Manaus, Brazil.

Myers spoke with Defense Minister Jose Viegas Filho, Institutional Security Minister Gen. Jorge Armando Felix, and his Brazilian military counterpart, Gen. Romulo Bini Periera. Following his meetings, he held a press roundtable discussion with Brazilian journalists.

Brazil is thinking seriously about taking a role in peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Myers said. Brazilian leaders said there must be a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing such a mission. Myers said a U.N. team is in Haiti now assessing the situation. That team will report back to New York and a resolution may follow.

"Brazil wanting to participate is welcomed not only by the U.S., but by all the nations of the hemisphere," Myers said. "We talked about the current situation in Haiti and the willingness to provide whatever help in regard to planning that the Brazilian military may need."

Brazil has extensive experience in peacekeeping operations in Angola, Madagascar and in other U.N.-sponsored missions. "It's important for Haiti and the Haitian people to have this kind of stability," the chairman said. "If it winds up that Brazil leads this mission, it will be welcomed by many people."

Terrorism was at the heart of the discussions. Myers said he spoke about information sharing with Brazilian leaders. He said he stressed that all aspects of government and all governments have to cooperate in ways they haven't in the past to defeat terrorists.

"In uniform, when I talk about terrorism it's easy to assume that the war on terrorism is a military thing," Myers said. "It's not at all. It demands the attention and action of all elements of national power: U.S. national power, Brazilian national power and, in fact, international power. In the end, if we're to be successful, it's going to be much more than a military action. It's going to be action on political and economic and educational fronts. The war is going to have to be waged there as well."

Myers discussed the U.S. ramifications of Brazil's "shoot-down" policy. Brazil wants to shoot down drug traffickers in its airspace. Traffickers from Brazil's neighbors often invade the border area and use landing fields in Brazil as they ship drugs, weapons and money out of the region.

The equipment used in shoot-downs is manufactured in the United States, and American law makes it a criminal offense for any U.S. citizen to participate in or support another country shooting down a civil aircraft unless it's permitted by a presidential determination.

This is controversial in Brazil, where many believe it is an internal United States problem, and that if Brazil wants to shoot down drug runners, that is their business. The U.S. law was put in place when a drug shoot-down in Peru targeted the wrong plane and a missionary and her child were killed.

Brazil and the United States are working together to get the presidential determination, Myers said. "We are right in the middle of doing that right now," he said. "The issue is being discussed in Washington, and it has a high priority. I care about this a lot, because if we were not to have agreement on this issue, then it could have other effects on our relationships that might impact our military-to-military relationship."

He said his Brazilian counterparts re-emphasized the importance of the issue to Brazil. Myers said everyone in his delegation understands that importance, and that they will communicate the urgency back in Washington.

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