President Bush and President Alejandro Toledo of Peru pledged Saturday to join together in what Toledo called "a war without quarter" against terrorism and drug trafficking in the Andean region.
"We are partners not just through conviction," Toledo said at a news conference with Bush. "But we ourselves have experienced the effects of terrorism here for 20 years," including the explosion Wednesday of a 100-pound car bomb across from the U.S. Embassy that killed nine people and wounded 30.
"We share a common perspective on terror," Bush said. "We must stop it."
"You can't alleviate poverty if there's terror in your neighborhood. It's impossible to achieve what we want if terrorists run free."
Toledo, whose nation borders terror-torn Colombia, promised to stand by the United States in the war on terrorism.
"We are partners on the issue of trade, on the issue of drug trafficking and terrorism, in defense of democracy and of human rights," Toledo said.
The two leaders met in Toledo's Colonial-style presidential palace on Lima's central square amid a massive security operation throughout the Peruvian capital. More than 7,000 police officers were deployed on city streets, many in full riot gear. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, although Peruvian officials have said they suspect a resurgent Shining Path guerrilla movement, thought to have largely disbanded after their leader was arrested in 1992.
Already jittery U.S. and Peruvian security officials were put on even higher alert Saturday morning after six small homemade explosives were tossed from a car and detonated on the roadside in a poor, eastern district of Lima far from anywhere Bush was scheduled to visit. Police also cracked down on a small anti-American demonstration in a central city square, using tear gas and arresting 18 people.
Bush's one-day visit, the first to Peru by a sitting U.S. president, was designed to demonstrate the administration's strong interest in Latin America, particularly the Andean countries where the United States is funding major military and development aid programs to try to stop the production and export of cocaine and heroin to U.S. markets.
The presidents of Colombia and Bolivia, and the vice president of Ecuador, also flew here to meet with Bush on Saturday night following his bilateral talks with Toledo.
There were high hopes in the region that Bush would arrive with a major trade deal, and would announce the renewal of a joint anti-narcotics aerial surveillance program suspended last year. But he had little to offer beyond a pat on the back for their democratic governments and a promise to keep working on those issues.
Toledo, who has a master's degree and doctorate from Stanford University and is an internationally known economist, is Peru's first indigenous president. He was elected last year, replacing an interim government put in place after longtime President Alberto Fujimoro left the country in disgrace following revelations of corruption and allegations of human rights abuse.
Bush is scheduled to travel to El Salvador today, where he again will tout the benefits of free trade.
_ Information from the Chicago Tribune was used in this report.