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American law enforcement agencies are rapidly expanding overseas, deploying agents to dozens of countries in scores of joint investigations.

Next week, the Clinton administration is planning to open an FBI international police training academy in Budapest, one of the most ambitious projects in this effort.American law enforcement is being exported in response to the surge of international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, links between terrorists and drug dealers, illegal immigrant smuggling, financial fraud, corruption, arms smuggling, money laundering and the potential theft and sale of nuclear material and chemically or biologically hazardous substances.

Global crime is not new, nor are instances of international police cooperation. But international crime is increasingly being redefined as a national security issue at a time when there are threats to the stability of governments in the former Eastern bloc, of civilian populations in Japan and of national economies in the Andean nations.

As a result, government officials say the Clinton administration is redirecting the manpower and resources of law-enforcement and related agencies to confront international crime as never before.

Under statutes that provide federal law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction in crimes against American citizens overseas, U.S. agents are working on terrorism cases in the Gaza Strip, Pakistan and the Philippines. In countries like Mexico, the federal authorities are planning broader joint coun-ter-nar-cotics operations.

The new efforts involve not only traditional crime-fighting bureaucracies like the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration but also the State Department and CIA. For the CIA in particular, crime-fighting offers a way to try to justify its overseas networks and keep its budget intact in the post-Cold War world.

For the FBI, the initiatives represent a more direct expansion of its traditional activities. But while the moves have generally found bipartisan support, some lawmakers have expressed skepticism about the emphasis on international issues, viewing it as a drain on domestic law enforcement.

At a recent hearing, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., a member of the appropriations subcommittee responsible for the FBI's budget, criticized the deployment of agents overseas.

"This bothers me," Hollings told Louis Freeh, the FBI director. "I need more agents down here on 14th Street," he said, referring to a crime-ridden neighborhood in the District of Columbia.

Freeh, who as a federal prosecutor in the 1980s helped break up a vast Sicilian Mafia heroin ring with close cooperation of the Italian authorities, is a principal advocate of overseas law enforcement.

Last year, Freeh opened an FBI office in Moscow, one of an overseas network of 24 such offices, forward command posts for an increasingly global detective agency. He has also been a driving force behind the Budapest training academy, an operation to be housed in a building complex donated by the Hungarians, financed with State Department and FBI funds to be approved by Congress and modeled on the FBI training academy in Quantico, Va.

Freeh said 37 recent cases in which authorities discovered illicit shipments of radioactive material transiting former East bloc countries provided a powerful rationale for the Budapest school.

"There couldn't be a better reason to have a centrally located school where we can develop a network of police partners in countries where we do not have now those relationships," he said in an interview.