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The United States and Mexico continue to look for ways to combat criminal bands of drug traffickers wreaking havoc on both sides of our mutual border. At a meeting in Washington December 19, senior diplomatic, law enforcement, defense and anti-drug officials renewed their commitment to the struggle now seen as threatening the security of both nations.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels when he took office in 2006. In March 2007, President Bush met with President Caldron in Merida, Mexico and announced a partnership to confront these transnational criminal organizations The U.S. is helping through the Merida Initiative, a multi-year, $1.4 billion security cooperation package. The cartels have killed thousands of people in Mexico this year, targeting elected officials, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and journalists and in turf wars over their operations, even each other. They are as ruthless and brutal as any terrorist group in their contempt for the lives and well-being of their victims and their societies.

In Merida, The United States and Mexico have reaffirmed a commitment to enhanced partnership, cooperation, training, assistance and information sharing, built on the premise that we have a shared responsibility to confront these criminals and protect our citizens, and that success requires increased cooperation, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

She also acknowledged that to thwart gangs manufacturing illegal drugs for use in the U.S., America must do everything it can do to reduce demand. We consider that part of our responsibility, she said.

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