July 7, 2017 / 7:50 PM / 2 months ago

Mexico, U.S. vow to bolster joint fight against drug cartels

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong deliver a joint message at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017.Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico and the United States are seeking to forge closer ties to fight arms trafficking and organised crime, Mexico's interior minister said on Friday, as he and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly vowed to redouble efforts to battle drug cartels.

"We're looking at new forms of cooperation on issues like arms trafficking ... and obviously combating international criminal organizations dedicated to drug trafficking," Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told a news conference.

Osorio Chong did not provide details as he spoke alongside Kelly, who was coming to the end of a three-day visit to Mexico.

Kelly, who on Thursday travelled to one of Mexico's most lawless regions to discuss the military's efforts to battle drug traffickers and observe opium poppy eradication, said the two sides aimed to strengthen joint security cooperation.

"We are also working together to defeat the scourge of illegal drugs, with special emphasis on the heroin, cocaine and fentanyl that is flooding the hemisphere and resulting in deaths in both of our countries," Kelly said.

U.S. deaths from opiates including fentanyl and heroin have risen sharply in the last few years, putting the issue at centre stage in efforts to strengthen cooperation on security matters between Mexico and the United States.

Kelly said U.S. President Donald Trump aimed to create "stronger, durable bonds" between the two neighbours, which have been at starkly at odds on some areas of policy under Trump, particularly the Republican leader's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Tom Brown

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