Pubdate: Thu, 21 Dec 2000
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Contact:  PO Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191
Fax: (619) 293-1440
Author: Ken Guggenheim, Associated Press


WASHINGTON -- Despite a $1.3 billion aid package already approved to fight 
illegal drugs, Colombia will need as much as $600 million a year in 
additional funds from the United States in the next few years to reduce 
drug production, Colombia's ambassador says.

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

"This was a bipartisan policy," he told The Associated Press in a recent 
interview. "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 in half its drug production 
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 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," Bush said.

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

The Clinton administration has stressed that military aid will be limited 
to 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.
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