SANTIAGO, Chile -- Leaders from U.S. Army South began bilateral staff talks with Chilean army leaders here today to promote the professional partnership and interaction between the two armies.

"The U.S. Army staff talks serve as a bilateral forum for strategic-level discussion between respective armies," said Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, U.S. Army South commander. "The overall objective of the U.S. Army staff talks in Latin America is to promote peace and stability and enhance interoperability in Central and South America, and the Caribbean, through mutual understanding, partnership, and cooperation."

U.S. Army South is the executive agent for the Army for army-to-army staff talks with partner nation armies in Latin America. The Army conducts staff talks with four nations in the region: Chile, Colombia, Brazil and El Salvador.

The talks with Chile will last through Wednesday.

"During the staff talks this week together we will form an engagement plan for the upcoming year," said Trombitas. "This will improve our already outstanding relationship with the Chilean Army and allow us to continue to work together at a strategic level to enhance the capabilities of both of our armies."

Maj. Gen. Alejandro Arancibia, director of International Relations, heads the Chilean delegation for the talks. Colonel RenAfA FernAfA!ndez, chief of the International Affairs Directorate, is a leading member of the Chilean delegation.

"It is very important for us to have these talks because there are so many key issues that must be discussed between our armies," Fernandez said. "The U.S. is a very important partner in the region and a very close friend. We share and are interested in a wide spectrum of issues with the U.S. Army, not only in the hemisphere, but in the Pacific region, too."

Staff talks are held every year and the agreements made during these talks will guide U.S. and Chilean Army interactions for the next year. The U.S. Army has held staff talks with Chile every year since 2006.

Today, both the U.S. and Chile presented a number of issues at the staff talks' plenary session for the delegate working groups to discuss. The work of the delegates will result in the mutual agreement for bilateral activities in 2011.

The Army South delegation also met with the Chief of the Chilean army, Gen. Juan Miguel Fuente, and will visit the Chilean Army's Education and Doctrine Command, the Special Operations Brigade and the 1st Armored Brigade in Arica