President Carter is sending two drug experts to discuss steps to halt the "very serious" narcotics traffic from Colombia to the United States, Rosalynn Carter announced today on board her Air Force jet. She issued a statement on the drug talks she held in Bogota just before arriving here on the last stop of her seven-nation Latin American tour.
Mrs. Carter said that Dr. Peter Bourne, head of the Office of Drug Abuse and Control at the White House, and Mathea Falco, a special adviser on narcotics to Secretary of state Cyrus Vance, will go to Colombia in the next few weeks for discussions with drug officials there.
Mrs. Carter said she had discussed the narcotics issue with Colombian President Alfonso Lonex Michelsen this morning, and that they had "agreed that the drug traffic is a very serious problem for both our countries. I told him that Jimmy is greatly concerned that we take an honest look at the situation and take immediate steps to curb the illegal trafficking."
A joint U.S. Colombian program to halt the flow of narcotics has been bogged down for some time. One of the measures being discussed is U.S. aid to help Colombia acquire two helicopters.
Colombian drug dealers send thousands of tons of high-quality marijuana and cocaine to the United States each year. The $500 million that flows into Colombia each year from the drug traffic is a major factor in that country's 30 per cent annual inflation rate.
Earlier, at a news conference in Bogota, Mrs. Carter said she had told President Lopez that the United States is "very concerned" about the kidnaping Feb. 15 of Peace Corps volunteer, Richard Starr of Seattle.
Starr, 30, a botanist, was working in southern Colombia on an experimental agricultural project when he was kipnaped by a band of Soviet-oriented rural guerrillas called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. U.S. officials said they believe that Starr is still alive.
Mrs. Carter said after the news conference that Lopez had promised to "do what he could."
Mrs. Carter said she had also told Lopez that the 73 or so Americans jailed in Colombia on drug charges "had become a big issue" in the United States. Some of the Americans have been held without trialas long as two years.