Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jul 2003
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Reuters Limited


WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) - Brazil is working with Peru and Colombia on
a set of common rules to cover when civilian aircraft suspected of carrying
illegal drugs could legally be shot down, Brazil's defense minister Jose
Viegas said on Friday.

Both Colombia and Peru are preparing to relaunch the U.S.-sponsored drug air
interdiction programs, suspended since an accidental downing of a small
aircraft in Peru in April 2001 that killed a missionary and her young

U.S. officials often cite Brazil as a drug transit country, with traffickers
using its vast Amazonian jungle to ferry out cocaine with planes and river

The State Department considers air interdiction a key part of the drug war,
together with the spraying of illegal crops and providing financial
incentives to farmers to plant alternative crops. Colombia supplies 75
percent of the world's cocaine.

Viegas said the three countries needed "coordinated legislation" to track
planes as they moved from one country to another, and could possibly form a
joint air control system.

"...our legislation must be compatible. I've been to Peru, and I've been to
Colombia, and I've talked to my colleagues, I'm familiar with their
legislation," Viegas said at a conference sponsored by the Center for
Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank.

Viegas told journalists that he had briefed U.S. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld on the coordination in the rules on shooting against suspected drug
trafficking aircraft. He met with senior U.S. defense officials and members
of Congress on Thursday during a two-day visit to Washington.
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