Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Colombia hails Mexico's drug war

Mr Calderon, left, and Mr Uribe in Mexico City
Mr Uribe, right, was on three-day visit to Mexico

The presidents of Colombia and Mexico have agreed to intensify joint efforts to combat powerful cartels that control the flow of drugs in both countries.

Alvaro Uribe praised his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon for his efforts while on a visit to Mexico.

The Mexican leader has deployed some 40,000 troops to tackle drug gangs since taking office in December 2006.

But critics say the rise in drug-related violence shows the war against organised crime is far from won.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence so far this year, as gangs fight each other and the security forces.

Mr Calderon pointed to the recent confiscation from the cartels of a large haul of weapons as a sign that his war on drugs is working.

And speaking at a business conference in Monterrey, Mr Uribe expressed confidence in the Mexican strategy.

"When you live in a country like Colombia that has already faced that intense fight against crime, one is very happy to see efforts like those of President Calderon," he said.

Colombia is world's top producer of cocaine, while Mexico is a major transit point.

Mr Uribe emphasised Colombia's own work to slow the flow of drugs and assist US prosecutors, noting that his government had carried out some 900 extradition orders since he took office.

The Colombian leader urged Mr Calderon to adopt his policy of paying large rewards for information leading to the killing or capture of drugs traffickers.

Interior minister named

On Monday, President Calderon named lawyer Fernando Gomez Mont to be his new interior minister after the previous holder of the job, Juan Camilo Mourino, died in a plane crash last week.

Mr Gomez Mont pledged to oversee an efficient and strong security cabinet to confront the drug cartels.

In his first news conference, he responded to questions about some of his past clients, who included bankers and businessmen accused of fraud and money-laundering, saying he saw no conflict of interest.

"I am not a man with ulterior motives," he told reporters.

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