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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks Following Customs Inspection Visit
Cartagena Port, Colombia, January 15, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State, January 18, 2000
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GENERAL SERRANO: I want to thank the presence of the Secretary of State, Mrs. Albright, and it's an honor for us to have her with us as long with the Minister of Defense, the Ambassador and the Commanders of the Armed Forces, the Army and the Navy. I want to thank you very much, Mrs. Albright, for this visit, for the support of the U.S. government to this program, truly a banner program throughout the world, and also a program that's been greatly assisted by the countries of Europe. It's a real banner program in the control of precursor chemicals. Once again thank you very much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much General Serrano. It's a great pleasure to finally meet you. We in the United States have heard so much about your great abilities and your dedication to this program.

For some time now I have been getting impressive reports about Cartagena's world class port security program. And so I am very glad to have had this opportunity to learn more about it, first hand, from Captain Salas and the other Force Directors.

This program is indeed a very good example of how much can be achieved when governments and the private sector work together to fight narcotics trafficking.

Clearly the Colombian National Police has made very effective use of the funds received from the businesses that use these ports and the 7.5 metric ton seizure a year ago is a prime example of that kind of cooperation.

I was very interested in looking at the maps because it shows the extent to which British, French and US Embassy personnel have also played very important roles in support of this program, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in our common anti-drug efforts. When I see my Foreign Minister counterparts I will make that point very clear to them again, about the importance of international cooperation.

I must say, in getting the tour I was so impressed with the variety of methods used in order to test drug shipments, from the dogs -- I shook hands with one -- and all the way up to the technical experts getting evidence here.

And I pledge to you that the United States Government will continue to back this program and others like it because your achievements are already exemplary and I have the highest expectations to continue this success.

And as General Serrano pointed out, this is a flag ship operation, run by a General -- I don't quite know how Generals run ships -- but I do think I would like to give you, General Serrano, my greatest gratitude for everything that you are doing and so I thank you.

Muchas gracias.

[End of Document]
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