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High-Level U.S. Team Pays Surprise Visit to Mexico

March 06, 1997| From Times Wire Services

MEXICO CITY — U.S. drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey and U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger paid a surprise visit Wednesday to Mexico, whose anti-drug program is in chaos after a series of scandals and a battle to be designated an American ally in the drug war.

The unannounced mission--which also included President Clinton's special advisor for Latin America, Thomas "Mack" McLarty--came after Clinton recertified Mexico's scandal-ridden anti-narcotics program last week, ensuring Mexico will continue to receive valuable U.S. aid.

A bipartisan movement in Congress is trying to override the president.

McCaffrey, Clinton's top anti-narcotics advisor, met with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and later told reporters that the talks were wide-ranging. The retired U.S. general would not elaborate.

Berger said the meeting was called at Clinton's request, adding that the high-level delegation also traveled to Mexico to help fine-tune details of Clinton's scheduled visit there next month.

Meanwhile, Colombia quietly suspended aerial spraying of illicit drug crops Wednesday in a move widely seen as a reprisal for a U.S. decision to leave the country on its drugs blacklist. A Colombian official said a decision on whether to resume eradication efforts would come after the Colombian government had reviewed counter-narcotics cooperation with the U.S.

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