The White House is announcing the first part of a military assistance program to Mexico to help its military fight drug cartels at the same time the Department of Transportation is pressing ahead to allow 100 Mexican trucking companies run long-haul rigs in the U.S. without restriction.

WND has reported a Drug Enforcement Administration report this year confirmed Mexican commercial drivers play a major role in the country’s drug cartel traffic into the U.S.

The White House included as part of the Iraq Supplemental Funding Request sent to Congress today an unprecedented $500 million for Mexico and $50 million for Central American countries to combat transnational crime and drug smuggling.

The White House confirmed the requested $500 million was part of a $1.4 billion program President Bush has discussed to fund “security cooperation” with Mexico.

WND has reported the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has now certified five Mexican trucking companies to participate in the cross-border demonstration project, despite an overwhelming vote in the House and Senate to remove funds for the project from the Department of Transportation’s 2008 appropriations bill.

Today’s White House announcement acknowledged Bush and Mexican President Calderon have discussed on many occasions the importance of the U.S. and Mexico working together in a program of military assistance to fight the Mexican drug war raging across the U.S. border.

Reuters reported the $500 million package was aimed at assisting the 25,000 Mexican military troops Calderon has dispatched since December to fight the drug cartels, especially in northeastern Mexico where in Nuevo Laredo the drug war has caused a surge in drug-related murders.

WND previously reported U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio O. Garza Jr. was engaged in discussions with the Calderon government about a comprehensive U.S. plan of military assistance to combat the Mexican drug cartels.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, also has confirmed to WND his discussions with Ambassador Garza about the need to assist Mexico in preventing the drug war in Nuevo Laredo from spilling across to his congressional district, which includes Laredo, Texas.

On Aug. 21, at the final press conference of the third North American Security and Prosperity Partnership summit meeting, Bush responded to a question by affirming Mexico’s drug trade is a continental problem and would demand a continental solution.

“We discussed a common strategy to deal with a common problem, and that is narco-trafficking and violence on our border,” Bush told reporters in Montebello, Quebec, Canada. “The United States is committed to this joint strategy to deal with a joint problem. I would not be committed to dealing with this if I wasn’t convinced that President Calderon had the will and desire to protect his people from narco-traffickers.”

The $500 million included for Mexico in the Iraq Supplemental Funding Request did not specify any direct U.S. military force presence in Mexico, nor did the announcement specify how the yet-to-be-announced remainder of the contemplated $1.4 expenditure would be allocated.

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