HEDGESVILLE, W. Va. – President Bush said Tuesday the U.S. government will continue to assist Colombia (search) in interdicting aircraft suspected of drug trafficking.
The renewed authorization follows the accidental shootdown several years ago of an American missionary plane.
The program was suspended in 2001 after a Peruvian warplane mistakenly downed the missionary flight over the Amazon (search), killing an American woman and her infant daughter.
The "Airbridge Denial Program" was subsequently resumed on an annual basis. The White House says the counter-narcotics (search) operation will take place "while observing strict adherence to agreed-upon and well-established procedures" to force down planes suspected of carrying drug shipments.
Bush, who was campaigning in West Virginia, signed a presidential determination declaring that Colombia "has appropriate procedures in place to protect against innocent loss of life."