Seeking to calm a diplomatic furor, he disputes the secretary of State's assertion that Mexico's drug war has begun to look like the Colombian insurgency.
President Obama sought to calm a diplomatic furor, disputing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's assertion that Mexico has begun to look like Colombia at the height of its struggle against a drug-financed insurgency.
Obama's comments, in an interview published Thursday by the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion, followed an outcry that began in Mexico after Clinton told a foreign policy group Wednesday that Mexico "is looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago, where the narco-traffickers controlled certain parts of the country."
Clinton's comments were quickly challenged by aides to Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
"Mexico is a great democracy, vibrant, with a growing economy," Obama told the newspaper. "And as a result, what is happening there can't be compared with what happened in Colombia 20 years ago."
U.S. officials including Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, and Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, have scrambled to minimize the damage to relations with Mexico, a key partner in the anti-drug fight. (Continues here)