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Mexican Calls Talks With U.S. 'Constructive'

March 12, 1985|DOYLE McMANUS | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Bernardo Sepulveda, Mexico's secretary of foreign relations, met for more than two hours Monday in an attempt to smooth over the rancor produced by the murder of a U.S. narcotics agent in Mexico. Both sides said the talks were at least partly successful.

Sepulveda, emerging from the State Department, called the session "very fruitful, very positive and very constructive" and said the two countries agreed "that a solution can be found to every single issue."

A senior State Department official who attended the meetings said Shultz did not repeat his charge, made last week, that the Mexicans failed to crack down firmly on the drug dealers suspected of kidnaping and killing U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique S. Camarena.

"We're past that point," said the official, who spoke on condition that he not be identified. "The issue is, how do you get that investigation back on the track? . . . And I think that is where we have a meeting of the minds."

He said the two countries agreed that U.S. Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III and Mexican Atty. Gen. Sergio Garcia Ramirez will meet soon to discuss increased cooperation in striking at the cross-border narcotics trade.

Meanwhile, he said, the Reagan Administration will be watching closely to see whether Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid delivers on his promise to prosecute the Camarena case energetically.

"We have put a lot of faith in President De la Madrid's indication that he has put a lot of emphasis on this issue," the official said. "We will wait and see."

After Camarena's kidnaping in Guadalajara last month, U.S. officials complained publicly that Mexican police were not acting swiftly on the case, and some charged privately that Mexican police officials were being paid off by the drug traffickers.

Controls and Protest

In an effort to put pressure on the De la Madrid government, the Administration imposed stringent controls on vehicle traffic entering the United States from Mexico, virtually paralyzing the border. The Mexicans formally protested.

Last week, after Camarena's body was found on a Mexican ranch, the normally phlegmatic Shultz expressed more impatience with the Mexicans. "Our level of tolerance has been exceeded," he told a Senate subcommittee.

On Monday, though, both sides took pains to soften the tone of the dispute and to praise each other's good intentions.

Sepulveda said he did not want to dwell on any points of conflict and said U.S.-Mexican relations would remain "friendly and cordial." The State Department official said that while the drug issue has not been solved, "we're getting back on the right track."

Shultz and Sepulveda also discussed the Central American crisis and bilateral issues, including trade, tuna fishing and the Tijuana sewer system, the State Department official said.

On Central America, he said, both sides expressed support for the peace negotiations set up by Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela, known as the Contadora Group. Mexican officials have sought a renewed U.S. commitment to the Contadora negotiations, which have stalled because of disputes between leftist-ruled Nicaragua and its neighbors.

"We've been trying to push (the Central Americans) to get back together in the Contadora talks," the State Department official said, "and we're pleased to see that they are."

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