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Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Saturday he will press Guatemalan leaders to improve the country's human-rights record but praised President Jorge Serrano for moving in that direction.

"We do have continuing concerns," Cheney told reporters traveling with him from Washington at the start of a 10-day Latin American trip that will also take him to Panama, Brazil, Argentina and Chile next week.The United States cut off all military aid to Guatemala, a country with a history of brutal military regimes, in 1990 due to torture and other rights abuses. Serrano took office last year and has promised improvement.

"I will restate and reiterate the importance, from the standpoint of the United States, of our making progress on these issues," Cheney said of scheduled meetings in Guatemala City on Monday with Serrano, Defense Minister Jose Garcia Samayoa and Attorney General for Human Rights Ramiro de Leon Carpio.

But senior U.S. officials traveling with the secretary said they saw little immediate prospect for resuming military aid despite the ill-equipped, 40,000-member Guatemalan military's need for modern small arms, armored vehicles and helicopters in a continuing war with leftist guerrillas.

Cheney spent Saturday touring Mayan archaeological sites.

He stressed that some progress on human rights had been made by Serrano, the second president in a row freely elected in this small Central American country. Serrano promised last month to introduce a universal military draft law this year to replace the current practice of forcibly conscripting poor young men from rural areas.