Peru announces air security pact with US after pause
PHOTO CAPTION: Representational photo of an Mi-17 in Iraq, Sept. 11, 2008 — the Mi-17 being one type of helicopter used by the Peruvian military (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Paul Villanueva II via U.S. Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)
LIMA (Reuters) - Peru announced an air security agreement with the United States on Saturday in what the government described as a push to stop planes belonging to drug gangs from entering the South American country's airspace.
The deal revives a bilateral security cooperation pact with the United States from 20 years ago, according to a government statement, and will permit new intelligence and training support to flow to Peru's air force.
It covers upgrades to two dozen helicopters and radar equipment, with the statement also citing "intense collaboration" with the United States, but without disclosing the cost of the security assistance.
The U.S. Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The statement cited Peruvian Defense Minister Jorge Chavez, who stressed that airspace interdictions efforts under the agreement will be carried out via non-lethal means.
An earlier air security pact between the two countries was suspended two decades ago after Peru's air force shot down a plane it had misidentified, killing two U.S. citizens.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)