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Clinton visits Mexico, supports army's drug war

Hillary Clinton tries to ease tensions with Mexico as she pledges support for its war against drug cartels.

Clinton Mexico
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures before the start of a press conference after her private meeting with Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa (out of frame) in Guanajuato, on January 24, 2011. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mexico Monday and pledged support for President Felipe Calderon's drug war weeks after leaked diplomatic cables revealed U.S. concerns for Mexico's capabilities.

Cables written by American diplomats in Mexico questioned the government's progress in its war against drugs and accused it of intelligence missteps and weak rule of law.

"Calderon's security strategy lacks an effective intelligence apparatus to produce high-quality information and targeted operations," according to American diplomats in a leaked 2009 cable, as reported by Reuters.

Mexico's intelligence gathering efforts were described in the cable as "fractured, ad hoc, and reliant on U.S. support."

Clinton declined to comment on the cables at a press conference in Guanajuato after meeting with Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa. She instead focused on easing tensions between the two countries and supporting Mexico's efforts to crack down on drugs and overhaul its judicial system.

Drug traffickers are not going to give up without a terrible fight, and when they do barbaric things like behead people, it is meant to intimidate,” she said. “It is meant to have the public say just leave them alone, but a president cannot do that.”

Clinton added that the United States acknowledges that its high demand for illegal drugs and sale of weapons helps fuel the violence south of the border.

"That is why it is important for us to work closely together to halt the stream of illegal weapons and cash in one direction and drugs going in the other direction," she said, as reported in Reuters.

Calderon's crackdown on drug gangs and violence among the gangs has killed more than 34,000 people since late 2006, and more than 15,000 in 2010 alone.

The secretary of state also pushed Mexico to improve its human rights record by passing more legislation and ensuring members of its military accused of crimes against civilians are tried in civilian courts, the Washington Post reports.

Clinton later met Calderon in Mexico City.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/mexico/110124/clinton-mexico-drug-war