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Uribe: American Resources Needed to Support Colombia's Fight - 2002-06-20

President Bush met Colombia's President-elect Alvaro Uribe at the White House Thursday. Mr. Bush reaffirmed his support for Colombia's battle against drug traffickers and terrorism.

The meeting took place in private, in the office of White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

After the session, President-elect Uribe told reporters he asked for more help in fighting drug traffickers. He made specific mention of the need to step up patrols of his nation's skies, roads, and waterways. He said American resources are needed to stop the massacres, abductions and other crimes being committed against the Colombian people.

Mr. Uribe, who recently won election in a landslide, stressed his commitment to the current U.S. effort to help Colombia fight drug trafficking. But he said the multi-year program known as "Plan Colombia" needs some changes. "We have to improve Plan Colombia. And we have to move with Plan Colombia in the right direction to show results. My main idea, my determination, is to look at how to show results," Mr. Uribe said.

The Bush administration supports providing the Colombian government with aid to fight both drug traffickers and leftist guerrillas. But there are concerns in the U.S. Congress about ties between the Colombian military and paramilitary units accused of severe human rights violations.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer indicates President Bush alluded to those concerns during his meeting with Mr. Uribe.

"President Bush reiterated U.S. support for Colombia in its efforts to counter both narcotics trafficking and terrorism. President Bush and President-elect Uribe talked about the need to fight terrorism within the framework of democratic institutions and full respect for human rights," Mr. Fleischer said.

This is Mr. Uribe's first visit to Washington since his election victory in May. He takes office in August.