Paraguay ready for talks with Bolivia over fighter jet purchaseClarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a Examiner.com. , 14.10.2009
Héctor Laconagta, Paraguay’s Foreign Minister, said on Tuesday his country was ready to discuss with Bolivia its recent deal to purchase six fighter jets for $57 million. Paraguayan Vice President Federico Franco recently accused Bolivia of intentionally hiding details of the purchase.
"President Lugo will communicate with his Bolivian counterpart - he can do it over the phone - because he is concerned by the arms race," said Laconagta in news conference following a meeting of ministers in the government palace.
Laconagta did not say whether the planned conversation between Lugo and Bolivian President Evo Morales would prevent the filing of a note of protest by the Paraguayan government with the Organization of American States.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Paraguan President Fernando Lugo has been feeling pressure from opposition legislators over his perceived indifference to the purchase.
Morales did confirm the purchase of a presidential jet and three Russian-made helicopters for $100 million, and announced the purchase of the fighter jets over a week ago.
Media reports are in conflict over the manufacturer of the jets. Some said they are Chinese made, and others indicated the jets are actually made in Pakistan, only using Chinese technology.
The plane in question - the K-8, or Karakorum - is a light fighter jet jointly developed by China and Pakistan in the early 1990s. It is used primarily as a training aircraft, but can also be used for airfield defense.
Ecuador, Venezuela, and Brazil are also in the midst of purchasing military hardware, including jets, tanks and helicopters from Russian, French, and Chinese manufacturers.
Several Latin America observers, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have expressed concern that these purchases are signaling the beginning of a regional arms race—a claim Latin American leaders deny.