- - Monday, April 23, 2012

BRASILIA — Brazil’s defense minister says he will press for the lifting of American restrictions on the transfer of military technology in his upcoming talks with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

“It is very important that there be no obstacle to the acquisition of items with technological content,” Celso Amorim told the daily Folha de Sao Paulo on Monday.

Mr. Amorim and Mr. Panetta are to meet here Tuesday as part of the new Defense Cooperation Dialogue agreed to during President Dilma Rousseff’s recent visit to Washington.

Mr. Amorim referred to the U.S. restriction that blocked the sale of 24 Super Tucano light attack aircraft made by Brazil’s top aeronautics firm Embraer to the anti-American, socialist regime in Venezuela in 2006. The planes have U.S.-built components.

Mr. Panetta on Monday began his first Latin America tour by visiting Colombia. He is also due to travel to Chile this week to boost military cooperation and regional security ties.

The technology-transfer issue is a key factor in Brazil’s plans to purchase 36 multipurpose combat aircraft. A decision is expected within a few months.

U.S. aviation giant Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet is competing against the Rafale fighter, made by French firm Dassault Aviation, and Swedish manufacturer Saab’s Gripen for the contract variously valued at between $4 billion and $7 billion.


Trade pact with EU expected this year

OTTAWA — Canada and the European Union are on track to finalize a free-trade pact within six months, Denmark’s trade minister said Monday.

“We’re at the end game,” Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr told a joint news conference with her Canadian counterpart, Ed Fast.

Now in its 10th round of negotiations in Brussels, a Canada-EU free-trade agreement should be finalized “within half a year,” she added.

The negotiations are 75 percent completed, and only a few key issues such as Canada’s farm supply management system and rules-of-origin labeling still need to be hammered out.

Denmark is conducting the negotiations as the current holder of the presidency of the Council of the European Union.


Pena Nieto increases lead in new poll

MEXICO CITY — Enrique Pena Nieto, the presidential candidate from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years to 2000, has stretched his lead in the race for the July 1 election, according to a poll published Monday.

Mr. Pena Nieto, the former governor of central Mexico state, gained support from 54.3 percent of voters in the poll by the Buendia and Laredo institute, a rise of 3.8 points compared with their previous poll one month ago.

His chief rival, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling conservative National Action Party, fell to 22.9 percent, a 5.2 percent drop.

Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost to President Felipe Calderon last time around in 2006, scored 21.4 percent in a close third, 1.3 percent higher than in the last poll.

The survey was carried out on a sample of 1,250 eligible voters between April 12 and 16, with a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Mexicans will also vote for members of the lower and upper houses of Congress, governors in six states and the mayor of Mexico City, as well as other local lawmakers and officials.


Police extradite millionaire to face prison in Britain

SANTO DOMINGO — Authorities here have extradited a fugitive British multimillionaire convicted of fraud in absentia.

Police said over the weekend that Michael Brown was flown to Spain, where he would be turned over to British officials.

Brown was arrested in January in the popular Dominican tourist town of Punta Cana. Police say he had been living in the Dominican Republic under the name of Darren Nally.

He is accused of duping four clients out of $62 million. He was sentenced in absentia to seven years in jail in 2008 after he was convicted of fraud.

Dominican police say he was also charged with defrauding people in the resort town of Punta Cana but the alleged victims dropped their complaints so he could be extradited.


Chavez out of sight but still on public’s mind

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez has been out of sight for a week, speaking only through Twitter messages and written statements while undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba.

The lack of any appearances on television has Venezuelans wondering about what his unusual silence might say about his struggle with cancer, and whether Mr. Chavez may be coping with a particularly tough phase of radiation therapy.

More than two dozen messages have appeared on Mr. Chavez’s Twitter account since he left for Cuba on April 14. He has cheered on his supporters with slogans such as, “Let’s continue building socialism!”

In other messages, he has praised his military commanders, announced funding for local governments and vowed to survive and win re-election in October. But he has seldom mentioned his cancer treatment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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