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U.S. to declassify files on Pinochet

Also, S. America backs U.S. efforts to aid Colombia

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SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Thousands of documents in U.S. archives about Gen. Augusto Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship — including those detailing human rights violations — will be declassified next month, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said.

Albright, who is on a five-nation tour of South America, called the recent ruling stripping Pinochet of immunity from prosecution historic. Pinochet, 84, could stand trial in connection with the deaths and disappearances of political opponents during his 1973-90 regime.

After massive disclosures in June and September 1999, about 11,000 additional U.S. documents are earmarked for declassification, Albright said. The documents refer to relations between the United States and Chile during Pinochet's rule.

Albright also said Thursday that Latin American leaders have expressed support for a $1.3 billion U.S. aid package to help Colombia battle narcotics.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia has assured her of his government's support for the initiative, she said at a news conference in Chile after visits to Brazil and Argentina.

She said the United States was offering "a comprehensive plan" that helped Colombian President Andres Pastrana by funding efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and human rights as well as combat drug trafficking.

"The United States administration is committed to President Pastrana's efforts for peace," Albright said.

Chile's foreign minister called the aid an important show of support for Colombia's elected government. "We must help efforts by a democratic president such as President Andres Pastrana to restore peace and fight drugs," Soledad Alvear said.

Critics of the package say it would put Washington on friendly terms with a Colombian military accused of tacitly backing right-wing death squads as it wages a 36-year civil war against Marxist guerillas.

President Clinton will visit Colombia on Aug. 30 to promote the plan, which U.S. officials have said is needed for the United States to do its part in the fight against drug trafficking.

Earlier, in Argentina, Albright joined Argentina's Foreign Minister Adalberto Rodriguez Giavarini and Jewish leaders in paying homage to the 86 victims of a 1994 bombing on a Jewish community center.

She stood beside a monument emblazoned with the Star of David and a stone plaque etched with the word "remember" and the names of the victims of the July 18, 1994, attack.

Although Albright did not comment in public, a senior State Department official said the secretary wanted to show solidarity with the victims in her last appearance of a two-day visit to Argentina.

Little progress has been made in arresting the masterminds of either the bombing of the Jewish center or the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy that killed 22 people. The bombings shook Argentina's 220,000-member Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.