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The Good News From Colombia

Friday, February 25, 2005; Page A20

Robert D. Novak's assertion that Colombia's fight against narco-terrorism is "America's forgotten war" is false ["Colombia on the Defensive," op-ed, Feb. 14]. Ironically, on the day that his column appeared, Marc Grossman, undersecretary of state for political affairs, was making his seventh visit to Colombia since 2001. In November President Bush traveled to Colombia to demonstrate his solidarity with President Alvaro Uribe's drug-fighting efforts.

No one is claiming victory in Colombia, but to deny that the momentum on the battlefield has shifted under Mr. Uribe is wrong.

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Heroin and cocaine production are down, as are terrorist attacks, murders and kidnappings. Several key terrorists have been captured, and a number of major narco-traffickers have been arrested and, in some cases, extradited to the United States. The United States remains committed to working with Mr. Uribe to create a secure and peaceful Colombia.

Finally, securing the safe recovery of the three Defense Department civilian contractors who were kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) in 2003 remains a priority of the United States; to suggest otherwise is regrettable and untrue.

ROGER F. NORIEGA

Assistant Secretary of State

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

U.S. Department of State

Washington


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