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Mexico and United States Ease Wrangle Over Cross-Border Abductions

July 2, 1992

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ President Bush has promised Mexico he will not allow the abduction of any more criminal suspects south of the border, but that a Mexican wanted in a U.S. drug agent’s slaying will not be handed back.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said Wednesday that Bush had written Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari saying ″his administration .. will not encourage, nor permit such abductions in the future.″

The letter was cited by both Mexico and the United States on Wednesday as instrumental in easing ties strained by a June 15 decision of the Supreme Court that sanctioned the abduction of the criminal suspect from Mexico.

″This is a very important pledge, coming from our president. It’s a very solemn pledge by this administration that this kind of activity will not be condoned,″ said Negroponte, announcing the conclusion of two weeks of talks.

Negroponte said the recent letter - he did not supply the date - gave clear assurance that the U.S. court case would not be used by Washington as a license to kidnap from Mexico suspects it sought.

Speaking at a news conference, he also said Mexico and the United States would formally review the issue in regular bilateral treaty talks that will convene this fall in Washington.

In a separate statement, Mexico said it would seek clear language in the treaty reflecting the unacceptability of kidnappings from its territory and would continue to press for the suspect’s return.

Mexico also said Wednesday that it would stiffen the penalty for cross- border kidnaps, making them a ″treasonable offense″ and publish clear ground rules for operations of the estimated 60 U.S. drug agents on its territory.

The high court’s decision involved the 1990 abduction of Dr. Humberto Alvarez Machain, who was spirited from Guadalajara to face American justice for his alleged role in the 1985 torture-slaying of agent Enrique Camarena.

The high court ruled that no specific clause in the 1978 bilateral extradition treaty legally prohibited the United States from seizing a criminal suspect from Mexico.

Alvarez Machain is in jail in California awaiting tentative trial Aug. 25.

Mexico demanded the doctor’s return and briefly suspended anti-drug cooperation over the Supreme Court ruling, calling for the revision of the bilateral treaty to make abductions from its territory illegal.

In reaction Wednesday, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said it did not receive ″a satisfactory response″ to its request for the doctor’s return:

″The Mexican government will continue to demand his return and will launch an intense diplomatic initiative″ before the World Court seeking to recognize the ″failure″ of the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

However, the statement said it was pleased by Bush’s letter.

″The government of the United States has given its word that there will be no more abductions of Mexicans ... from their national territory,″ said the statement by Foreign Minister Fernando Solana.

Several nations with similar treaties have expressed outrage over the ruling, saying it amounted to the rule of might over the rule of law.