WASHINGTON, April 8, 2008 – Top defense officials for the United States and Chile today signed an agreement to begin sharing science and technology information, further strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

“Our bilateral defense relationship with Chile is strong because it is driven by our shared values of democracy, market economy, and a commitment to social justice and human rights,” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today at the signing ceremony in the Pentagon.

The Master Information Exchange Agreement is a framework agreement that formalizes the exchange of military technical data on a reciprocal basis.

This is a new agreement between the two countries and, while there was nothing in place before to stop the two countries from sharing data, this agreement is considered a fundamental building block to developing a serious science and technology relationship, a senior defense official said. These formal agreements also tend to deepen the interaction between two countries and can “spawn” further relationships, the official said.

“As a next step, we hope to identify specific defense-related science and technology projects to work on with Chile,” Gates said.

In June, the United States and Chile signed an agreement that allowed for exchange of staff between the two defense laboratories. This summer, a Chilean military officer will be assigned to the Army lab, and a U.S. researcher is planned for assignment to Chile, the official said.

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