Blair Takes Lead In War On Drugs

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by weedboss, May 17, 2003.

  1. Tony Blair is to convene an international conference to encourage European Union countries to do more to tackle Marxist terrorists who control Colombia's drug trade.

    Senior Bush administration officials hailed the initiative as an important new step in assisting the Oxford-educated President Alvaro Uribe, who is said to have impressed the Prime Minister in talks at Downing Street last July.

    Jose Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, is understood to be another prime mover behind the conference, to be held in London in July.

    The Basque terrorist organisation Eta and the IRA have assisted the narco-terrorist group Farc ( the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ).

    Colombian traffickers have recently begun to send more cocaine to Europe, where it has three times the street value as it does in America, while increasing the supply of heroin to the United States.

    "Around 50 per cent of the cocaine is headed to Europe, mostly through Spain, so Tony Blair is right on with this," said a US congressional aide. "Many of the chemical precursors needed to make drugs come from Europe and this needs to be stopped."

    The White House now views Colombia as part of the war against terrorism, a shift in policy that has led to increased US military support. This means the conflict there is no longer treated as being primarily about drugs.

    "It is a very positive development that Britain is taking the lead," said a senior Pentagon official. "We have encouraged the Colombians to go to the British because they have a lot of expertise."

    But the conference, which will probably be opened by Bill Rammell, the Foreign Office minister with responsibility for South America, rather than the Prime Minister, is likely to fuel criticism from Labour backbenchers that Mr Blair is neglecting domestic issues.

    Mr Uribe, a conservative, has also come under fire from the Left for alleged human rights abuses. His opponents claim that he has facilitated Right-wing paramilitaries.

    Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, has met Mr Uribe twice. The Colombian issue is likely to gain greater prominence now that the Iraq war is over. Mr Wolfowitz and Mr Blair are said to share the view that the Colombian leader is a committed democrat.

    The meeting, due to take place on July 10, will draw representatives from the United States, major European countries and non-governmental organisations.

    "There is a convergence of interests between the US and Britain on this," said the Pentagon official.

    He contrasted this with past French actions to boost the initiative to maintain a Farc "safe haven" in the country. "There was the particularly nauseating sight of the French ambassador walking around with a little girl in the safe haven just before the talks collapsed," he said.

    "It was totally unrealistic because the Farc were never serious about peace. It was typical French meddling and focus on process."

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