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The presidents of Argentina and Chile have agreed to work together on ways of using science and technology to promote the growth and development of their countries.

Argentinean president Néstor Kirchner and his Chilean counterpart Ricardo Lagos signed a so-called 'Letter for the Future' at their first official meeting in Argentina last week.

In the document, they pledge to create research networks in "strategic scientific areas" such as alternative energy and space research. They also emphasise the importance of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in expanding both countries' health services and economies.

The document says that joint funding efforts should be developed to support projects in technology, information and communication involving private companies, research institutes and universities in the two nations. And it also agrees to improve access to ICTs, to promote the exchange of scientific knowledge, and to explore the creation of a virtual university

"The relevance given to science and technology during the presidents' first official meeting sends a clear political signal about the priority that they assign to this area," says Carlos Abeledo, a science policy expert from the University of Buenos Aires and an advisor to the Argentinean ministry of education.

Abeledo describes the event as comparable in significance to the ideas of the 19th century Argentine president Domingo F. Sarmiento, who spoke frequently about the importance of science and education during his exile in Chile.

Link to the full text of the 'Letter for the Future' (in Spanish)

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