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Panetta cautions Latin America against using military as police force

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The Pentagon's Western Hemisphere Defense Policy Statement released last week emphasized threats like terrorism and drug trafficking, and called for the Pentagon to help partner countries - those with whom the United States does not have a formal treaty of alliance - develop and professionalize their military forces.

The strategy seeks to renew U.S. military ties with Latin America after a decade in which Washington was focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and countries in the region complained of neglect.

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