Pubdate: Sun, 24 Mar 2002
Source: Inquirer (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Authors: Kevin G. Hall and James Kuhnhemm, Inquirer Washington Bureau
Bookmark: (Terrorism)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


The President Met With Leaders Of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador And Bolivia. 
Trade Also Was Discussed Yesterday.

LIMA, Peru -- Stringent security greeted President Bush yesterday as he met 
with Andean leaders in Peru.

Days earlier, a bomb had exploded in the Peruvian capital, across the 
street from the U.S. Embassy, and pushed terrorism to the top of Bush's agenda.

The President brainstormed with the leaders of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and 
Bolivia about expanding trade, coordinating antiterrorism efforts, and 
curbing drug flows. But the Wednesday car bomb, which killed nine, put 
Peruvians and the U.S. government on edge.

Bush and Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo pledged to mount a combined 
antiterror and antidrug effort while papering over U.S. displeasure with 
Toledo's reluctance to join neighboring countries in a call for eradication 
of coca, the plant from which cocaine is made.

"The world has called us into action," Bush said. "This is a new era."

Both leaders noted their kinship on terrorism, with Toledo recalling how 
his breakfast was shockingly disrupted as he watched the Sept. 11 terrorist 
attack unfold on television.

Noting Peru's two bloody decades of fighting domestic terrorism, he said: 
"We are not only partners in conviction, but we ourselves have experienced it."

No one has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing, though it is 
widely believed to be the work of the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement.

With sharpshooters perched on rooftops and heavily armed soldiers and 
police lining every corner, terrorism could not help but dominate a joint 
news conference. But antidrug efforts were not far behind.

Bush stressed that curtailing drug trafficking required cutting back 
production, but also reducing demand in the United States. Toledo, skirting 
a question about his commitment to coca eradication, said both countries 
had a responsibility to counter drugs.

"We have a long path ahead of us, and we have to walk it together," Toledo 

Shortly before Bush's arrival, a few dozen leftist protesters, some waving 
large red flags with the image of the late Marxist revolutionary Che 
Guevara, tried to rally in front of the Palace of Justice, not far from 
where Bush was to meet with Toledo.

Police fired tear gas and swarmed the protesters, making several arrests.

Bush and Toledo made a strong pitch on behalf of trade as an antidote to 
poverty. Bush and Toledo also announced the renewal of the Peace Corps 
program in Peru, which was abandoned in 1975 under an anti-American 
military dictatorship.

But terrorism was at the heart of the agenda.

Colombian President Andres Pastrana and Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga 
arrived around 3 a.m. to keep would-be terrorists guessing.

"It's a theme that has been the agenda of the whole word since the 11th of 
September. . . . Terrorism and drug trafficking are twin brothers, or two 
sides of the same coin - one feeds the other," said Quiroga, a graduate of 
Texas A&M University. "You saw that in Afghanistan. When the presence of 
the state fades, drug trafficking and terrorism appeared."

Colombia, Peru and Bolivia are the world's leading growers of coca. All 
three leaders face some form of drug-related insurgency and want Bush to 
open U.S. markets to their farm products to provide alternative crops to 
coca growers.
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