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Mexico Criticizes US Coordination in Drug War

Women bow before the casket of slain U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Jorge Zapata during a funeral mass at the Brownsville Events Center in Brownsville, Texas, February 22, 2011

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has rejected accusations that a lack of coordination in Mexico is undermining the fight against drug cartels, saying rivalry within U.S. intelligence agencies is to blame.

President Calderon made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in Mexico's El Universal newspaper.

The Mexican leader told the paper the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Central Intelligence Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement do not coordinate with each other on security matters, and said the agencies were rivals.

President Calderon also said U.S. President Barack Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, had shown a willingness to help fight Mexico's drug war. But he said cooperation at an institutional level has been notoriously insufficient. He called for the U.S. to cooperate in reducing drug consumption and in putting a stop to the flow of arms to Mexican drug gangs.

In the same interview, Mr. Calderon said leaked diplomatic cables show U.S. diplomats are ignorant about Mexico's security situation and are prone to distort and exaggerate.

In December, the British newspaper The Guardian printed details of a classified U.S. cable in which American diplomats voiced concern about the Mexican army's ability to win that nation's drug war. The details were leaked by the website WikiLeaks.

President Calderon's interview was published the same day mourners in Brownsville, Texas attended the funeral of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent who was shot dead last week Tuesday in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Jaime Zapata was killed and fellow agent Victor Avila, Jr. was shot in the leg during the attack. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder and ICE Director John Morton delivered remarks at the service for Zapata.

Mexican military forces are engaged in a struggle against the country's violent drug cartels. At least 34,000 people have been killed in the drug war since President Calderon took office in late 2006 and began a crackdown on the cartels.

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