Albright calls for more cooperation in fighting drug traffickers

BLACK ROCK, Tobago (AP) — Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Sunday for more cooperation against drug traffickers and praised Trinidad and Tobago for leading the way.
In 1996, Trinidad and Tobago became the first Caribbean nation to sign an agreement allowing U.S. authorities to pursue suspected drug traffickers into its territorial airspace and waters.
Albright said she would discuss “the increased need to cooperate even further … on a scourge that knows no boundaries” at a meeting today with foreign ministers of the 15-member Caribbean Community.
The 1996 agreement led to severe criticism from neighboring islands, which accused Trinidad of sacrificing its sovereignty, Prime Minister Basdeo Panday said Sunday after meeting with Albright.
Since then, most Caribbean islands have signed drug-fighting pacts with Washington, some allowing only air or sea pursuits.
Albright said that “each nation’s sovereignty is enlarged and not diminished” by cooperating against drug lords who many fear are gaining political influence on some islands.
Albright and Panday also signed agreements to share technology, protect the marine environment and control air pollution.
At Monday’s meeting on Trinidad, both sides likely will lament a lack of progress on regional issues since President Clinton met with Caribbean leaders in Barbados in May.
Then, Caribbean leaders hailed as a breakthrough a U.S. agreement to link the drug war to helping develop tiny Caribbean economies dwarfed by the resources of drug cartels.
The United States is sending four aircraft and two patrol boats to help Trinidad and Tobago track down traffickers, Albright said.