Pubdate: Thu, 21 Dec 2000
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Contact:  200 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281
Fax: (212) 416-2658


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite a $1.3 billion anti-drug aid package already 
approved, Colombia will need up to $600 million a year in additional 
drug-fighting funds from the U.S. in the next few years, Colombia's 
ambassador says.

Ambassador Luis Moreno said he is confident U.S. support for Colombia will 
remain strong despite the change in administrations.

"This was a bipartisan policy," he said. "It began as a bipartisan policy 
and it should remain that way."

The $1.3 billion package approved last summer is intended to help Colombia, 
the world's largest producer of cocaine, cut its drug production in half 
over six years.

Much of the package was for helicopters to help the South American 
country's military fight leftist guerrillas who finance their insurgency in 
part by protecting coca fields and cocaine laboratories.

President-elect George W. Bush expressed support for the Colombian aid in 
an Aug. 25 speech in Miami, saying, "This money should help build up the 
capabilities of Colombia's armed forces."

"Our aid will help the Colombian government protect its people, fight the 
drug trade, halt the momentum of the guerrillas and bring about a sensible 
and peaceful resolution to this conflict," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush, like President Bill Clinton, said he opposed using U.S. troops in 
battle there.

The Clinton administration has stressed that military aid will be used 
strictly for fighting guerrillas linked to the drug trade and not to help 
Colombia in its civil war.

Some Republicans say it's naive to separate the drug fight from the overall 
Colombian conflict and that the Bush administration may not be as concerned 
about making that kind of a distinction.

If Colombian President Andres Pastrana becomes frustrated with the peace 
process, Mr. Bush may agree to a request for help in training overall 
Colombian forces, said Myles Frechette, a Bush supporter who was ambassador 
to Colombia during the Clinton administration.

Clinton administration officials have repeatedly said more aid will be 
necessary in coming years to meet the plan's goals. Barry McCaffrey, 
director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, has 
predicted $400 million to $600 million will be needed next year for 
Colombia and its neighbors, but the administration hasn't said how much 
will have to be spent beyond that.

Ambassador Moreno said Colombia will likely need $500 million to $600 
million for at least three or four years.

Some Democrats have been skeptical that the aid will reduce drug production 
and fear the package will draw the U.S. into Colombia's guerrilla conflict 
and help a military linked to human rights atrocities.

The plan also has been criticized internationally, with Latin American 
leaders repeatedly raising concerns that U.S. military aid will only widen 
Colombia's conflict.
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