Central America to press US for help fighting crime

Central American leaders will press the United States for more money to fight organized crime in their region, a conduit for nearly all US-bound cocaine, El Salvador's president said Friday.

They will make this appeal at a meeting May 3 with President Barack Obama in Costa Rica, said President Mauricio Funes.

Central America has become one of the world's most violent regions because an estimated 90 percent of the cocaine shipped to the United States from South America now passes through it.

So far the United States has pledged to provide Central America with $360 million in aid for regional security, of which it has disbursed $40 million, Funes told reporters.

"Without greater involvement from the largest drug consuming market in the world, the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime in general will not be as efficient as we hope," Funes said, alluding to Washington.

Funes was to meet Friday with Secretary of State John Kerry and said he would ask for a face-to-face meeting with Obama in Costa Rica in May.