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Venezuela Open To Working With US On Drugs

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Venezuela is open to sharing information with U.S. authorities to help catch drug traffickers and is tightening security to detect more cocaine shipments being smuggled by air and sea, the country's top counter-drug official said.

President Hugo Chavez formally suspended cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005, accusing its agents of spying. The U.S. government, meanwhile, has accused Venezuela of failing to stem an increasing flow of Colombian cocaine through its territory.

Col. Nestor Reverol, head of the National Anti-Drug Office, defended Venezuela's track record Thursday and said his agency continues to have contact with the DEA when appropriate despite the lack of a formal accord.

``We're open to exchanging information,'' Reverol said in an interview with several news organizations including The Associated Press. ``We don't need the DEA's money. What we need is information, and we have an exchange of information with them.''

He cited the deportation in March of a drug suspect to the United States, and said Venezuela is cooperating with many other countries, from Colombia to Italy, to capture and extradite wanted traffickers.

``Venezuela has always been a country that has dedicated itself to the war against drugs. Our response shows it,'' he said, citing some 65 tons of drugs seized last year and nearly 23 tons so far in 2007.
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