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U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that Latin American countries must work together to counter drug trafficking and international terrorism.

Rumsfeld, in South America for a conference of Western Hemisphere defense ministers, told reporters that he hopes to strengthen regional security agreements in the Americas aimed at stopping narcotics and terrorist organizations.

He met with Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez and Defense Minister Nelson Herrera and was later to meet with his counterparts from Brazil, Argentina and several Central American countries. Herrera, in a news conference with Rumsfeld, emphasized his country's sovereignty in dealing with terrorism, drug trafficking and other problems. Asked about the civil war in Colombia, Herrera responded, "The problem of Colombia is the problem of Colombia. The problem of Ecuador is the problem of Ecuador."

Said Rumsfeld: "In the 21st century, we are finding these problems are increasingly global and regional. They are not problems that affect only one country, and as such they cannot be solved by only one country."