Pubdate: Sat, 08 Mar 2003
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press
Author: Adalid Cabrera Lemuz, Associated Press 


BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) - Brazil's president promised Friday to help Colombia
in its fight against drug traffickers and guerrillas, labeling the
insurgents "terrorists."

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged the assistance at the end of a
five-hour visit from his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe.

"Brazil has committed itself to support Colombia in its fight against drug
traffickers and terrorists," Silva said.

Silva's labeling the guerrillas terrorists came a day after the U.S.
ambassador to Ecuador said nations neighboring Colombia could help Uribe by
calling the FARC group terrorists because that's "what they are."

Brazil's first leftist president in 40 years, Silva has frequently been
critical of the proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, which is
scheduled to take effect by 2005. Silva's opposition, as he leads South
America's largest economy, could complicate approval of the agreement, which
Bush supports. The agreement seeks to create a free-trade zone stretching
from Alaska to Argentina.

Neither president provided details on Brazil's help, but diplomatic sources
said it would probably include tighter controls along the 1,020-mile
frontier between the two countries.

Brazil is also expected to provide Colombia with information obtained by its
Amazon Surveillance System -a network of radars, surveillance airplanes and

The $1.4 billion system was inaugurated last year to help Brazil unlock the
economic potential of the vast Amazon region and fight intrusions from
Colombian guerillas or drug traffickers.

"Terrorism destroys democracy, life and natural resources, including those
of the Amazon (rain forest)," Uribe said. "If it is not dealt with, it will
expand its activities across the border into Brazil."

Colombia's war, now in its 38th year, pits the FARC and a smaller rebel
group against the government and outlawed paramilitary groups. The guerrilla
groups and a rightist paramilitary operation all rely on drug trafficking to
fund their operations.

The two presidents also discussed ways to strengthen relations between the
Mercosur and Andean Community trading blocs. Mercosur is made up of Brazil,
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The Andean Community is made up of Bolivia,
Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk