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US declassifies Argentina's 'Dirty War' files amid reports of military upgrade

The White House has published intelligence documents showing US officials encouraging a crackdown on leftists in Argentina. Up to 30,000 people disappeared under the Argentine military junta between 1975 and 1984.

The US government on Monday declassified approximately 500 records on Argentina's brutal military dictatorship between 1975 and 1984, also known as the "Dirty War" period.

The second batch of declassified documents form part of US President Barack Obama's pledge to shed light on human rights abuses committed under the military junta. During the military dictatorship, Argentine authorities routinely detained and tortured leftist dissidents.

"The declassification project represents a historic effort by US government agencies and departments to search, identify, review for public access, and provide records that shed light on human rights abuses in Argentina between 1975 and 1984," the Obama administration said in a statement.

"These newly declassified records represent a continued commitment by the United States to promote justice and reconciliation in Argentina, to underscore the importance of transparency, and to highlight our shared commitments to human rights," it added.

Argentina's human rights secretariat is expected to publish the documents in English before the end of the month.

As requested by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the latest set of declassified documents include US military and intelligence records from the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. The documents revealed US officials encouraging the military junta to purge leftists.

New military equipment

The release comes amid local media reports that Macri has tentatively approved up to 40 billion pesos ($2.5 billion, 2.35 billion euros) for the defense ministry to buy and upgrade military equipment.

Argentine Defense Minister Julio Martinez told "Clarin" newspaper that new military equipment, including aircraft and tanks, would be purchased in 2018 at the earliest.

"During the Malvinas War (Falklands War), the Air Force lost 72 aircraft, and during Kirchnerism, almost 100 due to lack of spare parts, cannibalization or renovation," Martinez said, referring to the 12-year rule of the late Nestor Kirchner and his wife Cristina Kirchner.

Argentina's National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons has confirmed that nearly 9,000 forced disappearances during the military dictatorship, although it noted that the number could much higher.

Human rights groups estimate that up to 30,000 dissidents were killed under the military junta, including dissidents, journalists and students.

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ls/jm (AFP, AP, dpa)

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