U.S., Panama sign agreement to fight organized crime

13:41, November 30, 2010      

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U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (R), Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (C) and Panamanian Vice President Juan Carlos Varela are seen during the signing of an agreement to combat terrorism in Panama City, Panama's capital, on Nov. 29, 2010. The agreement will improve collaboration between United States and Panama on identifying suspicious passengers at Panama's airport. (Xinhua/Monica Rueda)

The United States and Panama signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Monday to enhance cooperation in aeronautic security against the threat of organized crimes.

This MOU was inked by Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli and United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who was on an one-day visit in Panama City.

Panamanian Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela said in a statement that the agreement aimed to improve security in airports and at border patrols of both countries.

"This allows us, as a country, to prevent our airports and airlines from being used by organized crimes," Varela said at the end of the ceremony.

"All of the information agencies from both governments will put information into a database, not just about drug trafficking, but also about human trafficking, terrorism and all kinds of crimes," he added.

Varela said that the MOU between the two countries would allow for greater access to information about organized crimes.

The U.S. side also expressed willingness to enhance cooperation with Panama in these fields.

Napolitano said, "This memorandum shows the shared commitment between the United States and Panama to improve our mutual security and protect air transportation by exchanging information and cooperation."

The U.S. official said that this cooperation would help identify suspects and take advantage of the U.S. expertise in technology, training and protection.

Napolitano also reaffirmed Washington's pledge to work together to strengthen aircraft security and fight organized crimes in the region during a meeting with presidential representatives from Central America, who were to discuss joint efforts to confront global threats.

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