US Considering Anti-drug Aid Plan For CentAm

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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) - The Obama administration is considering an anti-drug aid plan exclusively for Central America, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield said Washington would initially put in $200 million to be used just by the seven Central American countries.

Authorities say Mexican drug cartels are increasingly transporting Colombian cocaine by land, sea and air to Central America, then to Mexico and on into the U.S.

Brownfield said that the plan aims to enable more collaboration and coordination with Central America in the fight against illegal drugs and that it wouldn't replace aid being given by existing initiatives.

The United States currently gives anti-drug aid to Central America through the Merida Initiative, although most of the plan's money goes to Mexico.

The U.S. Congress approved $700 million for Mexico for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 as part of the initiative. It allotted $175 million for Central American, the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the same period.

For the current fiscal year, the administration has asked Congress to appropriate $450 million for Mexico and $100 million for Central America.