U.S., China to join in fight against drugs


BEIJING - The first U.S. anti-drug czar to visit China announced yesterday that the two countries have signed an unprecedented agreement to share intelligence and evidence in combating the narcotics trade and related crimes.

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, the White House national drug policy director, said U.S. law enforcement agencies will begin working more closely with their Chinese counterparts to ferret out international crime rings dealing drugs, laundering money and smuggling arms.

McCaffrey held out the possibility of opening an FBI office in Beijing, which would require an unusually high level of cooperation between two nations often on edge in their joint ties.

"We want to see an FBI presence in China," as there is in such countries as Russia and Mexico, McCaffrey told reporters after two days of talks in the Chinese capital.

His is the first of two high-profile visits to China this week by members of President Clinton's Cabinet. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright is expected to hold talks Thursday and Friday.

From Beijing, McCaffrey will head to the southern Chinese city of Kunming and to Hong Kong. The retired army general's four-day China swing is part of a three-nation tour that also will take him to Vietnam and Thailand. The purpose is to promote international efforts to curb the heavy drug traffic emanating from the so-called Golden Triangle countries of Southeast Asia, where opium poppies are cultivated.

Southern China is a major conduit for drugs from the region - mostly heroin and cocaine.

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