Chile says tank sale offer from Switzerland was unsolicited

The government said Monday that an offer by Switzerland to sell 93 tanks was not solicited by Chilean authorities.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the offer, which was later withdrawn, "had been made by Switzerland without a request from the Chilean government, and it was still being considered."

During the weekend, the Swiss Federal Defense Department withdrew the offer to sell Chile 93 second-hand Leopard II tanks, saying it was not financially convenient.

The Chilean ministry said it still has armored equipment with technology dating from the 1950s and 1960s.

"Because of this, the army has recently been studying different proposals from European countries that are selling armored equipment," it added.

Offers from Holland and Germany were also being considered, officials said.

The Chilean army has some 200 Leopard I tanks and is seeking the Leopard II model to replace its U.S.-made M-41 and French-made AMX.

The government has dismissed criticism by some of its neighbors, particularly Peru, saying it is only updating obsolete equipment and does not want to trigger an arms race in the region.

Chile also is purchasing U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets and submarines from a French-Spanish consortium, AP reported. V.A.

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