Chairman Connects with Latin American Friends
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
LIMA, Peru, March 4, 2009 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Peruvian defense leaders and defense attaches from many nations during a reception at the U.S. ambassador’s residence here last night.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen is using his trip to Latin America as a way to connect with defense leaders and further military-to-military contacts in the region.
Ambassador P. Michael McKinley welcomed Mullen and his party and said that the visit by the highest-ranking U.S. military official signifies the importance the United States places on the region.
In a short speech, Mullen said one purpose of his trip is to ensure U.S. friends understand America’s commitment to strong, mature and equal consultations among the nations of the Western Hemisphere, just as officials in the region are committed to strong partnerships with the United States.
Mullen said he wants to look at the challenges of the region with their perspectives. “When I visit great friends, one of the things I try to do is listen and try to see how you view things from your positions and how we might help,” the chairman said.
The U.S.-Latin American relationship has never been more crucial, not only in the hemisphere, but also globally, Mullen said. “We are at a time in history when regionally and globally we must look for ways to work together,” he said. “We must work together to solve these great challenges that face us.”
Mullen said he will discuss military equipment with Latin American friends, “but at its heart, [the relationship] is not about equipment, but people.” All countries of the region must work together to give all people a better life, he added.
In Peru, Mullen is meeting with President Alan Garcia and Defense Minister Antero Flores. Mullen started his swing through Latin America in Brazil, and then moved on to Chile. After Peru, the chairman will visit Colombia and Mexico before returning to Washington.