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Brazil Urges Activation of Rio Pact - 2001-09-18

Brazil is urging other Latin American countries to activate a regional security pact to meet the threat posed by international terrorism. Brazil will make the proposal Wednesday at a special session of the Organization of American States in Washington.

Brazil says it will ask the OAS to convene a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the nations belonging to the Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty, better known as the Rio Pact.

Signed in 1947 at the start of the Cold War by the United States and 19 Latin American countries, the Rio Pact was aimed primarily at protecting member states from aggression by nations outside the hemisphere.

But a top Brazilian Foreign Ministry official says the Rio Pact could be applied now, in the wake of last week's terrorist acts against the United States. Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, who is the Foreign Ministry's general secretary, told the Globo Television network that Rio Pact members could adopt a wide range of actions to combat terrorism.

"The Rio Pact outlines various situations which could affect the peace and security of the countries in the region, be they threats by states outside the hemisphere or aggressive actions by diffuse forces not necessarily tied to any one state, as would be the case in terrorist attacks," Mr. Seixas Correa said. "The pact provides for a number of different options that members can adopt in support of the country attacked. These measures range from relatively simple actions at the diplomatic level such as cutting off diplomatic relations to economic measures, such as sanctions and blockades, to the deployment of military forces in the most serious cases."

Mr. Seixas Correa said Brazil will urge OAS member states to convene a meeting of the Rio Pact members, so they can discuss ways Latin America can contribute to the fight against terrorism.

It appears unlikely the Rio Pact members will resort to collective military action for now. Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso says he has not received any request from Washington to provide military support for any eventual action against terrorist groups or nations that harbor terrorists. Mr. Cardoso said providing troops would not be, in his words, in "Brazil's tradition." Nevertheless, he said Brazil's position is one of "solidarity" with the United States.