Venezuela Says It May Allow U.S. Anti-Drug Flights

Venezuela Says It May Allow U.S. Anti-Drug Flights
Posted by FoM on February 23, 2000 at 22:15:03 PT
By Fabiola Sanchez, Associated Press
Source: Boston Globe
Venezuela is reconsidering its refusal to grant the United States use its airspace for anti-narcotics flights, Vice President Isaias Rodriguez said Wednesday. The issue has been a source of tension between the two countries: Venzuela says the flights infringe on its sovereignty, while U.S. officials say they're needed to stem the flow of drugs from neighboring Colombia, the world's top producer of cocaine. 
President Hugo Chavez's critics say his stance jeopardizes good relations with the United States, which is Venezuela's No. 1 trading partner. Chavez, who took office a year ago, has forged a close ties with Cuba and has spoken of the need to reduce U.S. influence in the world. Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering asked Venezuela again last week to allow the anti-drug flights. ''We have fully agreed on the need to establish a policy of joint cooperation to confront the problem of Colombian drugs,'' Rodriguez said in an interview. He added that Venezuela was prepared to discuss the flights as long as they do not violate the country's sovereignty. He did not elaborate. The United States wants to use Venezuela's airspace for flights from three new staging centers it has set up in Ecuador and the islands of Curacao and Aruba, just off the Venezuelan coast. The centers were set up following the U.S. withdrawal from the Panama Canal Zone, which had been used for the drug flights. Caracas, Venezuela (AP)Published: February 23, 2000 Copyright 2000 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing, Inc.Related Articles:Natural Fungus Could be Tool Against Illegal Drugs Elephant in the Room - Three Part Article Apart - Three Day Series From The Boston Globe
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