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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 22:39 GMT 23:39 UK
US seeks to boost regional democracy
Anti-Fujimori demonstration in Peru's capital Lima
There was strong opposition to the Peruvian president's re-election
By Richard Lister in Brasilia

The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who has started a tour of South America, has warned that democracy in some parts of the region is under threat.

She was speaking after talks in Brazil with President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the Brazilian Foreign Minister, Luiz Felipe Lampreia.

Mrs Albright's talks highlighted the problems in Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia.

Colombian anti-drugs forces
The US is drumming up support for Colombia's war on drugs

Mrs Albright described relations between the US and Brazil as better than at any time since World War II. Their areas of agreement far outweighed their differences, she said.

But at a news conference after her talks with Mr Lampreia it was clear there are still significant areas where they are not speaking with one voice.

Mrs Albright said they had discussed the importance of supporting the Colombian plan to fight drug-trafficking there and bring an end to the long-running civil war. The United States sees that programme as a major priority and has committed $1.6bn to it.

But Mr Lampreia said Brazil did not have the same degree of commitment to the plan. He added without elaborating that his country had no intention of participating in any international action in Colombia.

Brazil has long been wary of getting drawn into Colombia's turmoil.

Madeleine Albright
Brazil does not fully support Mrs Albright's policy on democratic reform

Both sides did agree the current effort to press for democratic reform in Peru was important, but again Mr Lampreia noted without going into detail that he and Mrs Albright had slightly different views on that issue, too.

Mrs Albright made clear in her comments that there was a need to ensure that the tide of democracy continued to rise in the hemisphere. While that is an idea that Brazil supports, it seems the two countries have slightly different feelings about how to make it a reality.

Mrs Albright travels on to Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador.

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | Americas
US Senate approves anti-drug funds
12 Jan 00 | Americas
Colombia welcomes US financial aid
15 Jan 00 | Americas
Colombia 'can win drug war'
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