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December 29, 08

NEWS / Second United States-Central American Dialogue on Security

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas A. Shannon led the U.S. delegation to the second United States-Central American (SICA)1 Dialogue on Security, December 11-12, 2008 in Washington, DC. The Dialogue consisted of one day of technical talks and one day of vice-ministerial consultations. The consultations focused on advancing concrete and practical measures to combat the threats of criminal gangs, narco-trafficking and illicit trafficking of arms in Central America. A final Communiqué that institutionalized the Dialogue and pledged continued support from all countries in the fight against transnational threats was signed by all countries at the end of the Dialogue along with a Mechanism on follow-up that details the procedures and focus of future dialogues.

Following the Dialogue, all seven SICA member states signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in particular, outlining the provision of e-Trace. E-Trace is a paperless firearm trace submission system and trace analysis computer module that is readily accessible to appropriate law enforcement users through a connection to the World Wide Web. This Internet application provides the necessary utilities for submitting, retrieving, storing and querying firearms trace-related information relative to particular jurisdictions, thereby allowing the systematic tracing of firearms that may have been recovered from crime scenes. Analysis of firearms trace data can assist in the identification of firearms trafficking patterns and geographic profiling for possible sources of illicit firearms.

The U.S. delegation to the Dialogue included representatives from the U.S. Department of State; the U.S. Agency for International Development; the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security; along with the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol, the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Coast Guard; and Southern Command. Congressional staff also attended the Dialogue.

The following states and organizations also attended as observers and assisted the Dialogue in order to contribute to the common security goals in the region: Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), the Organization of American States/Department of Public Security (OAS/DPS), and the World Bank.

The U.S. proposed high-level security talks with SICA in 2006 to promote coordination and discussion of transnational security threats such as illicit trafficking of arms, drugs, and persons, criminal gangs, border security, terrorism and natural disasters. The first U.S.-SICA Dialogue was held July 17-18, 2007 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The Final Declaration of the first Dialogue pledged concrete and practical efforts to combat criminal activity, emphasized the need for partnership and shared responsibility to address common threats, and provided a roadmap to launch a process to develop common approaches to shared security concerns in the region.

SICA will host the next Dialogue in 2009.

A link to the Conference documents including the final Communiqué and final Mechanism can be found at http://www.state.gov/p/wha/hs/c27175.htm.

Tags: secretary of state, document,


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