Pubdate: Thu, 21 Dec 2000
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2000 The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper.
Contact:  501 N. Calvert Street P.0. Box 1377 Baltimore, MD 21278
Fax: (410) 315-8912


Additional $600 Million A Year From U.S. Proposed

WASHINGTON - Despite a $1.3 billion anti-drug aid package approved by
the United States, Colombia will need up to $600 million a year more
in U.S. drug-fighting funds in the next few years, Colombia's
ambassador to Washington says.

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

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

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

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." Bush, like President
Clinton, said he opposes 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 might not
be as concerned about making that kind of a distinction.

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

"None of this is going to be easy, but it's easier for a George W.
Bush than it is for an Al Gore," he said.

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

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

Frechette said Moreno's projection is conservative. "My own sense is
$500 million next year is probably low if we're really serious about
dealing with this," he said.
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