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Clinton Supports Mexico in Drug War

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (l) and Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa take part in a joint press conference in Guanajuato, Mexico, Jan. 24, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging Mexico to persist in its war against drug cartels, saying there is no alternative to confronting them head-on.

Secretary Clinton made the comment Monday as she met in the Mexican city of Guanajuato with Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa and gave strong support for President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on drug gangs. Clinton was quoted as saying that what President Calderon has done is absolutely necessary and that the drug traffickers are not going to give up without a fight.

The U.S. secretary of state also pointed to the killing or capture of about two dozen high-level traffickers as a sign of the Mexican president's progress.

The talks took place ahead a scheduled meeting in Mexico City later Monday between Secretary Clinton and Mr. Calderon.

Mexico is one of several nations involved in the Merida Initiative, a U.S. program that provides equipment, training and technical assistance to law enforcement operations in neighboring countries to help them fight crime. In 2008, Congress approved $400 million in program funding for Mexico and $65 million for Central America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Drug-related violence has surged in Mexico in recent years. The violence has left 34,000 people dead since President Calderon took office in late 2006 and began a crackdown on the cartels.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.