Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2001
Source: Inquirer (PA)
Copyright: 2001 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Deborah Charles (Reuters)


WASHINGTON - Colombian President Andres Pastrana Friday urged continued 
U.S. efforts to fight drug traffickers, who he said were funding sources 
for terrorist groups like those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Saying he had the "moral authority" to speak out against terrorism because 
his country had struggled against it for so long, Pastrana urged U.S. 
officials not to give up in fighting drug traffickers as it focused on 
finding those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

In a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft and other officials, 
including the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Pastrana noted 
that three outlawed Colombian armed groups were on the State Department's 
list of terrorist groups.

He said the most important ones were also involved in drug trafficking.

"Those are the ones that finance the violence not only in Colombia but also 
in Afghanistan," Pastrana said. "Through the business of heroin . . . this 
is how these terrorist organizations are financed."

"And that's why we should strengthen our fight against this common enemy, 
which is narco-trafficking."

Pastrana also expressed a fear mentioned recently in Colombia that the 
South American nation could fall off the U.S. radar screen as Washington 
carried out its bombing campaign in Afghanistan, which is harboring accused 
terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

"Sometimes we are worried that maybe you are going to slow down the fight," 
he said.

DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson told Pastrana his organization was 
committed to working with the Colombian government and police force and 
hoped to do more in the future.
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