- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BOLIVIA

Combat jets sought from China

LA PAZ | Bolivia is looking to buy six combat aircraft from China or Brazil after the United States blocked the sale of Czech planes, Defense Minister Walker San Miguel said in remarks published Monday.

“They could be Chinese, or they could be Super Tucanos from Brazil, one or the other,” Mr. San Miguel was quoted as saying in an interview with the newspaper La Razon.

He provided few details on the status of negotiations with either country.

The government of leftist President Evo Morales last year tried to buy six L-159 ALCA two-seater light combat aircraft, made with U.S. components, from the Czech Republic for $58 million.

But Mr. Morales disclosed in July that the sale had been vetoed by Washington.

Bolivia also has been negotiating to buy arms and equipment from Russia worth about $100 million, including an Antonov aircraft for presidential travel outside the country.

COLOMBIA

Brazil unhappy with U.S. base deal

BRASILIA, Brazil - The imminent use of seven bases in Colombia by the U.S. military is “a serious problem” that has to be discussed further by South America’s leaders, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday.

“The treaty between Colombia and the United States needs to have a legal guarantee allowing any other country that feels threatened to go before international forums,” Mr. Lula da Silva said in his weekly radio broadcast.

The controversial bases deal, details of which first came to light in Colombia’s press in mid-July, was the subject of a stormy summit between South American presidents on Friday.

That meeting heard fears of Venezuela and other countries that the expanded U.S. military presence in Colombia - officially to fight drug traffickers - could be used against neighboring nations, several of which have leftist anti-U.S. governments.

It issued a statement warning “foreign military forces” against threatening the sovereignty of other countries, without mentioning the United States or Venezuela by name.

It also agreed South America would examine the issue further in future meetings.

BRAZIL

Petrobras to solely develop oil reserves

BRASILIA | Brazil’s state-run Petrobras said it will be the sole operator of new subsalt fields under a major oil reform proposed on Monday by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The proposal to develop massive oil reserves off Brazil’s coast calls for a switch to production-sharing agreements from the existing concession systems, and creates a new state-owned holding company to manage subsalt projects, it said in a filing with Brazil’s securities regulator.

Mr. Lula da Silva is due to present Congress with the proposal to revamp the country’s oil laws to develop massive oil reserves off the southern coast, which he wants to use to tackle poverty and propel Brazil to developed status.

Mr. Lula da Silva, a former union leader who has steered Brazil to years of prosperity, hailed the unveiling of the new oil legislation as a “new independence day” for South America’s largest nation.

“We don’t have the right to take the money we’re going get with this oil and waste it,” he said Monday in his weekly radio address. “What we want … is to use this oil to make Brazil a wealthier country, to make it more developed.”

The oil lies below shifting sand and a thick layer of salt deep beneath the ocean floor, making it difficult and costly to extract. The so-called subsalt region, which stretches for hundreds of miles along the coast, is believed to hold an estimated minimum of 50 billion barrels of oil.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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