White House Seeks to Soothe Ruffled Mexico

From a Times Staff Writer

The White House sought Friday to smooth relations with Mexico, saying that the country’s efforts to combat drug trafficking have “become more effective” despite a “serious problem” of drug-related corruption.

“The government of Mexico shares our concern about the corruption and also shares our belief that the problem is best countered by coordinated efforts to eliminate the evils associated with the drug trade,” the White House statement said.

Its tone contrasted sharply with harsh charges of massive corruption that were leveled at a Senate hearing May 13 by U.S. Customs Commissioner William von Raab and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams.

Their testimony ignited protests from Mexico and prompted a State Department apology to Sonora Gov. Rodolfo Felix Valdez, accused by Von Raab of possibly producing marijuana and opium. Valdez denied the charge.

The White House statement said the Mexican government “has affirmed its commitment to investigate and prosecute any persons involved in drug trafficking or corruption, regardless of their position.”


The statement added that the United States is “resolved to continue working closely in a responsible manner with President (Miguel) de la Madrid and his administration to combat drug trafficking in Mexico.”