“This is a way of making contact and dealing with the region (…) to handle the threat posed by transnational crime and, specifically, drug trafficking organizations,” said Steve Johnson, a former Pentagon official specializing in Latin America, according to news site VOA. After giving a speech in a Military academy in Rio de Janeiro, Secretary Panetta will travel to Chile, where he is expected to meet with Chilean Defense Minister Andrés Allamand and President Sebastián Piñera. The U.S. is interested in the Chilean Military’s response to natural disasters, a topic which will be on the agenda at the upcoming Defense Ministers of the Americas meeting slated for October in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, said AFP. By Dialogo April 24, 2012 Panetta then headed to Brazil on April 24 for similar meetings with his counterpart, Celso Amorim and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Among the topics of discussion is a pending large-scale contract to equip the Brazilian Air Force with 36 new jet fighters, for which U.S. firm Boeing is competing, reported AFP. For the first time since he assumed his position, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was on his way to South America on April 23, as part of a U.S. effort to build regional partnerships in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism. Panetta’s agenda includes visits to Colombia, Brazil, and Chile. In Bogotá, the U.S. representative met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón to further discuss the bilateral agreement signed a week earlier by the South American country and President Barack Obama regarding Plan Colombia.
Under legislation passed last year to support Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, the US administration must certify that the city still enjoys the freedoms promised by Beijing when it negotiated with Britain to take back the colony.”No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, adding the trade hub “does not continue to warrant” its special status.The determination means that Hong Kong could lose trading privileges — including lower tariffs than the mainland — with the world’s largest economy.President Donald Trump will ultimately decide which actions to take, said David Stilwell, the top State Department official for East Asia.”The steps will be considered and they will be as targeted as possible to change behavior,” Stilwell told reporters, while acknowledging it was unlikely Beijing would change course. Topics : China’s rubber-stamp parliament endorsed plans Thursday to impose a national security law on Hong Kong that critics say will destroy the city’s autonomy. The National People’s Congress (NPC) of over 2,800 delegates voted in favour of the proposal to draft the law, which would punish secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and acts that endanger national security.The United States has revoked Hong Kong’s special status under US law, opening the way for the city to be stripped of trading privileges, as Washington accused China of trampling on the territory’s autonomy.