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Peruvian Terror Attack Becomes Topic at Monterrey Conference - 2002-03-22

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo returned home Thursday after addressing the plenary session of the United Nations Conference on Financing Development in the northern Mexico city of Monterrey. Terrorism has become a topic of discussion at the conference as a result of the bombing in the Peruvian capital of Lima that killed at least nine people.

The bomb that went off in Lima sent shock waves that were felt here in Monterrey. Discussions in the hallways at the conference center centered on the possible resurgence of one of Latin America's most violent leftist guerrilla groups the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path.

In his speech before the plenary, Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo expressed grief over what had happened in his country and vowed to fight terrorism. He said his government and people would not permit a resurgence of terrorism in Peru. He said he would take a firm hand and apply the law against terrorists. Mr. Toledo said he knew he could count on the support of other governments represented at the conference.

But critics at home say at least some of the blame for the return of the rebels lays with President Toledo, who cut $60 million from the armed forces budget and ignored signs of trouble in the countryside. In recent months insurgents have downed power pylons and attacked remote police posts. The Shining Path is said to be drawing much of its financing from drug traficking.

Another Andean leader at the conference in Monterrey is facing a similar problem with drug-financed guerrilla group. President Andres Pastrana of Colombia said his country would like more help from the United States.

He said the United States should give direct military aid to Colombia because the groups causing the violence in his country are all narco-terrorists. He said they can be compared to al-Qaeda, because the radical Islamic terrorists also get much of their funding from drug trafficking.

Both President Pastrana and President Toledo will have a chance to make their case for more help in the war on drugs and terrorism when they meet with President Bush, at a special Andean summit, in Lima on Saturday.