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Lima.– The foreign ministers of Peru and Colombia repeated here Monday their goal of enhancing trade ties with Central America and of helping Bogota become the fourth Latin American member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, or APEC.

Colombia's Maria Consuelo Araujo said at a press conference that her country looks very favorably on using its relationship with Central America as a bridge to the Pacific Ocean region to which Peru belongs.

Araujo made a working visit to Lima Monday and met with her counterpart Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde and with Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

Colombia is a member of the nine-nation project of infrastructure development known as the Puebla-Panama Plan which includes southern Mexico and the countries of Central America, and as such enjoys privileged access to the region, Garcia Belaunde said.

The Peruvian minister said that his country could eventually accompany Colombia in its negotiations for a free trade pact with Central America.

For its part, Colombia seeks its incorporation into APEC in 2008, when the forum's moratorium ends on accepting new members, while Garcia Belaunde expressed Peru's interest in Bogota's joining the group during the APEC summit set for that year in Lima.

Besides Peru, APEC already includes Mexico and Chile.

With regard to the war on drugs, a subject at the top of the bilateral agenda, Araujo said that both countries will strongly support greater cooperation in the fight against narcotics.

The diplomat said that Colombia has received cooperation in that area "as a gesture from countries that understand it as a crime that extends beyond national borders." Colombia is the world's biggest exporter of cocaine, while Peru is also a leading producer of coca leaf, the raw material for the drug.

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