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STEMMING COCAINE LIKELY TO TAKE YEARS

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A top U.S. drug-control official says efforts to stem the cocaine trade by eradicating crops in South America will not produce substantial results for years.

David Westrate, the Drug Enforcement Administration's assistant administrator for operations, offered that assessment Wednesday in testimony before the House narcotics committee."Escalating coca cultivation and cocaine production in the Andes has at no time been more critical nor posed as profound a threat to the United States and its allies," Westrate said.

But while progress is being made in eradication, "We will not see substantial effects for years against coca," he said.

Michael M. Skol, deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, said the State Department is considering "new directions" in the eradication effort.

He did not spell them out, but suggested they will be expensive.

"Money is a crucial part of the narcotics trade, and unfortunately in this time of tight budgets, money may be one of the most effective weapons we can muster for our anti-narcotics programming," he said.

U.S. policy, he said, must consider "what happens if and when we are successful" in eradicating cocaine production: what will happen to the peasant farmers earning their livings growing coca, to the economies of those countries and to the governments that, by wiping out the cocaine business, will be confronted by an angry populace.

He said increased economic and military aid will be required.

Skol said the governments of Peru and Colombia need additional military assistance because anti-drug officials there are battling both guerrilla groups and well-armed drug traffickers - who occasionally support each other for either economic or geographic reasons.