Clinton Pledges to Work With Mexico Against Drug Cartels

MEXICO CITY (AP) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton on Wednesday pledged to stand with Mexico in its violent
struggle against drug cartels and admitted that Americans'
"insatiable" appetite for illegal narcotics and their inability
to control weapons smuggling was partly to blame.

Fearing that Mexican drug violence may spill across the border,
Clinton promised to boost cooperation to improve security on both
sides.

"The criminals and kingpins spreading violence are trying to
corrode the foundations of law, order, friendship and trust between
us that support our continent," she told a news conference with
Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa. "They will
fail."

"We will stand shoulder to shoulder with you," she said after
lengthy talks with Espinosa and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration pledged to send more money,
technology and manpower to secure the border in the U.S. Southwest
and help Mexico battle the cartels.

Clinton said Wednesday the White House would also seek an
additional $80 million to help Mexico buy Blackhawk helicopters.

All that is in addition to a three-year, $1.4 billion Bush
administration-era program to support Mexico's efforts. Congress
already has approved $700 million of that. President Barack Obama
has said he wants to revamp the initiative.

Obama said Tuesday he wanted the U.S. to do more to prevent guns
and cash from illicit drug sales from flowing into Mexico.

But Clinton's remarks were more forceful in recognizing the U.S.
share of the blame. In the past, particularly under the Bush
administration, Mexican officials have complained that Washington
failed to acknowledge the extent that U.S. drug demand and weapons
smuggling fuels the violence.

"I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility," Clinton
told reporters aboard her plane on her way to Mexico.

"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug
trade," she said. "Our inability to prevent weapons from being
illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes
the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians."

Criminals are outgunning law enforcement officials, she said,
referring to guns and military-style equipment such as night-vision
goggles and body armor that the cartels are smuggling from the U.S.

"Clearly, what we have been doing has not worked and it is
unfair for our incapacity ... to be creating a situation where
people are holding the Mexican government and people responsible,"
she said. "That's not right."

Officials said her priorities included encouraging Calderon's
government to increase its battle against rampant corruption by
promoting police and judicial reform.

Clinton will visit a police station in the capital on Thursday
before heading to the northern city of Monterrey, where she will
speak with university students about U.S.-Mexican relations.

Just hours before she arrived in Mexico, the Mexican army
announced it had captured one of the country's most-wanted
smugglers, a man accused of controlling the flow of drugs through
Monterrey for the powerful Beltran-Leyva cartel.

The U.S. measures outlined Tuesday include increasing the number
of immigrations and customs agents, drug agents and
antigun-trafficking agents operating along the border, as well as
sending more U.S. officials to work inside Mexico.

Those measures fall short of calls from some U.S. states that
troops be deployed to prevent further spillover of the violence,
which has surged since Calderon stepped up his government's battle
against the cartels.


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