Peru’s Defense Minister shoots down U.S. military base rumors

Peruvian Defense Minister Allan Wagner

(LIP-jl) — Peruvian Defense Minister Allan Wagner denied reports that United States officials discussed the opening of a U.S. military base on Peruvian soil during his recent trip to the U.S.

According to a report in Argentinian newspaper Pagina/12, U.S. officials from President George W. Bush’s administration held conversations with the Peruvian Defense Minister to move the current Manta (Ecuador) mission to a military base in northern Peru.

Additionally, the report stated that the potential move to the Peru is also being used as a bargaining chip by U.S. congressmen in the ongoing free trade agreement process between the U.S. and Peru.

Wagner responded to the rumors by saying that he discussed issues that are related to strengthening the Peruvian Navy’s capacity in the Water Interdiction Program in Peru’s Amazon jungle.

The Defense Minister manifested that he requested American authorities to begin a second phase to the drug interdiction program as soon as possible, which, according to Wagner, would deliver a serious blow to the Peruvian drug trade since water transport is considered to be the most commonly used form of drug transport in Peru.

"I hope that we can hammer out some type of agreement that will enable this type of collaboration which I consider to be very important in fighting the war on drugs," he sustained.

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U.S. military base in Peru? (by LIP, Apr. 02, 2007)